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Feeling fed up with teaching


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#31 BadStrad

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 16:26

Yeah, but, do you know what? It's so incredibly dis-spiriting to be faced week after week, hour after hour, with a child who does nothing in between lessons. It just sucks the soul out of life. To the point that sometimes it is worth either terminating lessons, or at least, charging the parents extra for all the trouble. Because, it's not just about the individual student. The teacher also matters. And the teacher's mental health matters. And it is about proportions. If you have 1 non-practicer and 20 great ones, then that's OK. If it's the other way round, then stacking shelves in a super-market suddenly seems quite attractive.

So, I don't mean to disrespect your story. But your story is just that, your story.


You are in the wrong job.
Not necessary, and rather unkind I feel. The poster is making a personal response which some may disagree with, but not deserving of this comment
I agree, that seemed rather unkind to me too. Private teachers have the option of who they teach (economics allowing). Letting a pupil go because they don't practice and/or don't seem to want to learn doesn't mean that teacher is in the wrong job. Having a music private tutor is a priviledge, not a right and it is a valuable lesson for the kid to learn that not everyone is going to put up with their bad behaviour.

Some pupils might eventually turn the corner and start making the effort. Some teachers might thrive under the challenge, but not everyone will and there is no reason why, as a self employed teacher they should have to put their own mental health at risk.
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#32 Jlma

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 18:27

I don't have any problem with entertaining a pupil/ student for half an hour a week if that's what the bill payer is happy with. Some people want to "do" music rather than learn it. The problem comes when they want exam success.

Agree. Often, parents say their child can't or won't practise much but still expect the child automatically progresses from grade to grade just by attending the weekly half hour lesson. It's this attitude of entitlement that is frustrating. I can live with non-practisers if they don't constantly insist on doing exams. Why does almost everyone want to do exams but not put in a minimum of effort? 

 

Back to the OP: While I regularly teach higher grades and beyond g8, I have very similar problems.  I have decided to give parents and pupils more specific practice guidelines in terms of how many minutes the child should practise, if they wish to do exams. Some genuinely have absolutely no  idea of what is reasonable.

 

While I recognise that some people get away with less practice (fine if they do), others need more, and that the quality of practice matters and it's not just the minutes and hours, I am totally convinced that a certain minimum is necessary for pupils to make reasonable progress.

 

 One pupil admitted to 5 minutes fortnightly yet he and his mum were keen for him to do grade 1 soon. Another genuinely thought 20 minutes just twice a week were plenty to prepare for grade 6. Pupil couldn't even play the first two bars of the piece, yet the parent sitting in the lesson seriously asked me whether I would enter him for the exam that term...

 

Perhaps we need to communicate our own expectations better, and manage parents' completely unrealistic expectations. And be tough when parents demand a non-practising child to be entered for the next grade. 


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#33 mel2

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 07:57

Yeah, but, do you know what? It's so incredibly dis-spiriting to be faced week after week, hour after hour, with a child who does nothing in between lessons. It just sucks the soul out of life. To the point that sometimes it is worth either terminating lessons, or at least, charging the parents extra for all the trouble. Because, it's not just about the individual student. The teacher also matters. And the teacher's mental health matters. And it is about proportions. If you have 1 non-practicer and 20 great ones, then that's OK. If it's the other way round, then stacking shelves in a super-market suddenly seems quite attractive.
So, I don't mean to disrespect your story. But your story is just that, your story.


You are in the wrong job.
Not necessary, and rather unkind I feel. The poster is making a personal response which some may disagree with, but not deserving of this comment
I agree, that seemed rather unkind to me too. Private teachers have the option of who they teach (economics allowing). Letting a pupil go because they don't practice and/or don't seem to want to learn doesn't mean that teacher is in the wrong job. Having a music private tutor is a priviledge, not a right and it is a valuable lesson for the kid to learn that not everyone is going to put up with their bad behaviour.
Some pupils might eventually turn the corner and start making the effort. Some teachers might thrive under the challenge, but not everyone will and there is no reason why, as a self employed teacher they should have to put their own mental health at risk.
Seriously?

I think anyone who fears for their mental health in a job like private music teaching should consider other options.

I don't expect this to be a popular opinion but taking up piano teaching after working in the NHS for a couple of decades I can hardly believe the joy in the autonomy of deciding for myself how I will do things, even to the extent of choosing my clients. Not a thing I could do in my previous career, however bad they smelled, however challenging their behaviour or hopeless the case.
I'm sorry - the stress levels are just not on the same graph.
And for an example of unkindness, I was shocked at the summary dismissal of akj42's contribution to this discussion, and indeed sorry for his sake that it got so many 'likes'.
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#34 Dorcas

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 11:26

Mel2, I don't agree with your comments about mental health.  In the past, one student family were so unpleasant and intimidating, I had to call the police to have them moved on from outside my place.  It was incredibly scarey.  


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#35 BadStrad

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:38

Seriously?
I think anyone who fears for their mental health in a job like private music teaching should consider other options.
I don't expect this to be a popular opinion but taking up piano teaching after working in the NHS for a couple of decades I can hardly believe the joy in the autonomy of deciding for myself how I will do things, even to the extent of choosing my clients. Not a thing I could do in my previous career, however bad they smelled, however challenging their behaviour or hopeless the case.
I'm sorry - the stress levels are just not on the same graph.

It is impossible to say what the causes and scale of someones suffering may be and so any comparison is pointless. Everyone has a different tolerance to individual stressors. I was recently chatting to a fire fighter. I could not imagine coping with having to run into burning buildings. The fire fighter could not imagine coping as a teacher.

The lack of autonomy, respect, resources etc are undeniable stressors for NHS workers, but there are also benefits, perhaps the support of co-workers, regular income, hopefully a decent line manager and the patients come and go relatively quickly, care is by the nature of shift patterns a team effort, not a solo one, for example.

A lone teacher has no co-workers to turn to (hence forums like this, I guess). Pupils turn up every week (more or less) demanding full attention whilst sometimes giving nothing in return but expecting miracles. For some teachers that can lead to feelings of failure, of being in the wrong job, of not being good enough, of failing their pupil. There are no co-workers to share with when things don't work. Teaching is intense and many teachers become emotionally invested in their pupils' development as a musician. Some teachers have experienced bullying tactics from parents, or pupils. The isolation, the feeling of "having" to find an answer, with no one to turn to, the sense of ongoing failure are stressors which could lead to anxiety or depression. Different to the stresses in the NHS, but equally valid for the person experiencing them, and no less real.

I suppose you could also say that anyone working in the NHS must know to some extent what to expect before they apply, the media are full of stories about the stress, shortages, violence against staff, etc. (It amazes me that anyone would work there, but I am so glad that they do.) Similarly there are media stories about the stresses of being a school based teacher. Private tutors mostly get the "let's regulate them" kind of story. So, likewise, it is amazing that anyone applies to work in a school any more and why private tutoring must seem like a better, less stressful option. "Teachers to be" probably imagine tutoring will be "nice" (but enjoyably challenging) because their lessons were. Finding out that it is not always like that can be a bit of a shock (to say the least) as countless threads have shown.

Many people function in the world, as doctors, nurses, teachers, chefs, electricians... with mental health issues. It doesn't mean they should quit their jobs, or that they made the wrong career choice. You can love your job and still find aspects of it stressful to the point of breaking. It could be said that the more you care about your work, the easier it is to be affected by it.
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#36 edgmusic

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 18:03

Seriously?
I think anyone who fears for their mental health in a job like private music teaching should consider other options.
I don't expect this to be a popular opinion but taking up piano teaching after working in the NHS for a couple of decades I can hardly believe the joy in the autonomy of deciding for myself how I will do things, even to the extent of choosing my clients. Not a thing I could do in my previous career, however bad they smelled, however challenging their behaviour or hopeless the case.
I'm sorry - the stress levels are just not on the same graph.

It is impossible to say what the causes and scale of someones suffering may be and so any comparison is pointless. Everyone has a different tolerance to individual stressors. I was recently chatting to a fire fighter. I could not imagine coping with having to run into burning buildings. The fire fighter could not imagine coping as a teacher.

The lack of autonomy, respect, resources etc are undeniable stressors for NHS workers, but there are also benefits, perhaps the support of co-workers, regular income, hopefully a decent line manager and the patients come and go relatively quickly, care is by the nature of shift patterns a team effort, not a solo one, for example.

A lone teacher has no co-workers to turn to (hence forums like this, I guess). Pupils turn up every week (more or less) demanding full attention whilst sometimes giving nothing in return but expecting miracles. For some teachers that can lead to feelings of failure, of being in the wrong job, of not being good enough, of failing their pupil. There are no co-workers to share with when things don't work. Teaching is intense and many teachers become emotionally invested in their pupils' development as a musician. Some teachers have experienced bullying tactics from parents, or pupils. The isolation, the feeling of "having" to find an answer, with no one to turn to, the sense of ongoing failure are stressors which could lead to anxiety or depression. Different to the stresses in the NHS, but equally valid for the person experiencing them, and no less real.

I suppose you could also say that anyone working in the NHS must know to some extent what to expect before they apply, the media are full of stories about the stress, shortages, violence against staff, etc. (It amazes me that anyone would work there, but I am so glad that they do.) Similarly there are media stories about the stresses of being a school based teacher. Private tutors mostly get the "let's regulate them" kind of story. So, likewise, is it amazing that anyone applies to work in a school any more and why private tutoring must seem like a better, less stressful option. "Teachers to be" probably imagine tutoring will be "nice" (but enjoyably challenging) because their lessons were. Finding out that it is not always like that can be a bit of a shock (to say the lest) as countless threads have shown.

Many people function in the world, as doctors, nurses, teachers, chefs, electricians... with mental health issues. It doesn't mean they should quit their jobs, or that they made the wrong career choice. You can love your job and still find aspects of it stressful to the point of breaking. It could be said that the more you care about your work, the easier it is to be affected by it.

Seriously?
I think anyone who fears for their mental health in a job like private music teaching should consider other options.
I don't expect this to be a popular opinion but taking up piano teaching after working in the NHS for a couple of decades I can hardly believe the joy in the autonomy of deciding for myself how I will do things, even to the extent of choosing my clients. Not a thing I could do in my previous career, however bad they smelled, however challenging their behaviour or hopeless the case.
I'm sorry - the stress levels are just not on the same graph.

It is impossible to say what the causes and scale of someones suffering may be and so any comparison is pointless. Everyone has a different tolerance to individual stressors. I was recently chatting to a fire fighter. I could not imagine coping with having to run into burning buildings. The fire fighter could not imagine coping as a teacher.
The lack of autonomy, respect, resources etc are undeniable stressors for NHS workers, but there are also benefits, perhaps the support of co-workers, regular income, hopefully a decent line manager and the patients come and go relatively quickly, care is by the nature of shift patterns a team effort, not a solo one, for example.
A lone teacher has no co-workers to turn to (hence forums like this, I guess). Pupils turn up every week (more or less) demanding full attention whilst sometimes giving nothing in return but expecting miracles. For some teachers that can lead to feelings of failure, of being in the wrong job, of not being good enough, of failing their pupil. There are no co-workers to share with when things don't work. Teaching is intense and many teachers become emotionally invested in their pupils' development as a musician. Some teachers have experienced bullying tactics from parents, or pupils. The isolation, the feeling of "having" to find an answer, with no one to turn to, the sense of ongoing failure are stressors which could lead to anxiety or depression. Different to the stresses in the NHS, but equally valid for the person experiencing them, and no less real.
I suppose you could also say that anyone working in the NHS must know to some extent what to expect before they apply, the media are full of stories about the stress, shortages, violence against staff, etc. (It amazes me that anyone would work there, but I am so glad that they do.) Similarly there are media stories about the stresses of being a school based teacher. Private tutors mostly get the "let's regulate them" kind of story. So, likewise, is it amazing that anyone applies to work in a school any more and why private tutoring must seem like a better, less stressful option. "Teachers to be" probably imagine tutoring will be "nice" (but enjoyably challenging) because their lessons were. Finding out that it is not always like that can be a bit of a shock (to say the lest) as countless threads have shown.
Many people function in the world, as doctors, nurses, teachers, chefs, electricians... with mental health issues. It doesn't mean they should quit their jobs, or that they made the wrong career choice. You can love your job and still find aspects of it stressful to the point of breaking. It could be said that the more you care about your work, the easier it is to be affected by it.

A great response BadStrad!

It is so important to think before making unhelpful, negative comments without appreciating individual circumstances and personalities.

Comments on this forum should always be positive,helpful and supportive. It is disappointing that a couple on this thread have not done so.
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#37 mel2

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 19:49

It is so important to think before making unhelpful, negative comments without appreciating individual circumstances and personalities.
Comments on this forum should always be positive,helpful and supportive. It is disappointing that a couple on this thread have not done so.

As part of that assertion do you include the unpleasant rant at a newish forum member and a comprehensive dissing of his sympathetic point of view?
I somehow doubt it as you have (or BadStrad has) quoted my post rather selectively to exclude my final paragraph where I make a similar point to your own.
I stand by my remarks.
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#38 edgmusic

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 00:37

It is so important to think before making unhelpful, negative comments without appreciating individual circumstances and personalities.
Comments on this forum should always be positive,helpful and supportive. It is disappointing that a couple on this thread have not done so.

As part of that assertion do you include the unpleasant rant at a newish forum member and a comprehensive dissing of his sympathetic point of view?
I somehow doubt it as you have (or BadStrad has) quoted my post rather selectively to exclude my final paragraph where I make a similar point to your own.
I stand by my remarks.

'You are in the wrong job'
Not very helpful, not very kind.

I think any 'unpleasant rant' is disappointing on this forum.
Hardly 'teachers helping teachers'!
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#39 BadStrad

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 01:00

...you have (or BadStrad has) quoted my post rather selectively to exclude my final paragraph...

Of course I edited. I was responding to your comment on mental health. The rest of your post was regarding a separate matter, so there was no point quoting it. Had I chosen to respond to that part of your post, I would have edited out all the previous text on mental health. I don't see the point of quoting a whole post if not all of it is relevant to the response being made.
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#40 Dorcas

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 09:04

The start of term is always problematic. I never really know who is going to return, for how long and how enthusiastic, or not, they will be, looking at new pieces or challenges.  Yes, there are times when I wonder if I am in the right job.  Who doesn't?  The reality is, it is too late to embark on another career, for me anyhow. Somehow or other, I have to make the best of it.  Usually, this is successful, but not always.  At times like those, I turn to this forum for support.  I know I am not alone doing this, and I think it is a crying shame, that someone starts a thread, and it slowly but surely it becomes a musical bun fight.  Most of the time, remarks are just that remarks, which are not meant to be either positive or negative, just simply a commentary or part of the discussion.

 

Ho hum, happy September everyone.


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#41 mel2

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 12:55

The start of term is always problematic. I never really know who is going to return, for how long and how enthusiastic, or not, they will be, looking at new pieces or challenges.  Yes, there are times when I wonder if I am in the right job.  Who doesn't?  The reality is, it is too late to embark on another career, for me anyhow. Somehow or other, I have to make the best of it.  Usually, this is successful, but not always.  At times like those, I turn to this forum for support.  I know I am not alone doing this, and I think it is a crying shame, that someone starts a thread, and it slowly but surely it becomes a musical bun fight.  Most of the time, remarks are just that remarks, which are not meant to be either positive or negative, just simply a commentary or part of the discussion.

 

Ho hum, happy September everyone.

 

Not really a shame - it's a forum and by the very nature of the thing, is likely to attract differing views. It used to be a far more robust place in the past. I fully expected disagreement and that's fine; the only thing I won't tolerate is any attempt to shut down debate.

 

Here's wishing you a smooth, successful teaching year ahead. smile.png


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#42 bluebindle

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 19:49

I have felt like that at the end of a year and sometimes in between. I usually pick up again, although many of the problems you have, I also experience. I saw this today https://youtu.be/ZQUxL4Jm1Lo
It is has some sound points and may help your state of mind. Generally I agree with myself that I am lucky to do what I do.
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#43 The Great Sosso

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 14:05

Thanks bluebindle.  That strikes a chord.

 

The part about the scientific equipment failure got me thinking:  if a student fails because they haven't practised then, assuming I have shown them what to do, advised them and the parents correctly about what is required and they just haven't done it, I shouldn't own that failure as mine.  By the same token of course I shouldn't feel quite so proud of the success stories as I do - because my input has been just the same as it has for the failures, the only difference being that the student has put in more effort.

 

So perhaps more professional detachment and less personal investment in what these kids do from week to week will help.....

 

TGS X


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#44 BadStrad

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 14:21

 By the same token of course I shouldn't feel quite so proud of the success stories as I do - because my input has been just the same as it has for the failures, the only difference being that the student has put in more effort.

I always tell my pupils:-  "I can't really teach you anything, I can only help you to learn."  When they look confused, I point out that they get an hour a week with me, if they don't practice between times they won't have learned anything, so they have to do the work between lessons to make sure the lesson is learned. 

 

Edit: - Yes, I know, it's not the best of sentences to use, but it usually gets the kids to think about where the responsibility for their learning really lies - ie with them practicing what they've been taught.


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#45 bluebindle

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 14:26

QUOTE:
So perhaps more professional detachment and less personal investment in what these kids do from week to week will help.....


Don't be too quick to detach yourself - you may not like the results! At the start of each year, I tell myself I will be more like this - emotionally detached, clinical, unavailable, finished on time and no extras..... in the hope that I can reclaim some space in my head,of which there seems to be none during term time! I envy colleagues who seem to read books, and have a life! But I don't envy their results or job satisfaction.
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