Saturday, September 26, 2020

Lessons: musings of a teacher


purchase some Steve Martin [ The Crow ]

purchase some Tommy Emmanuel[ Guitar Mastery of ~ ]

Like at least one other of my associates here at SMM, lessons is what I do. Day in, day out for forty-two years now. But for some reason, this has meant that I have struggled to come up with something to share on this page at this time.

Like most school folk, as trite as it may seem, I am committed to life-long learning. I take this for granted. Until, that is, I run across research that shows that one in four Americans didn't read a single book last year. The good news is that apparently there has been  a slight uptick with the arrival of audiobooks.

The tradition location for a lesson - the classroom - has become a memory. I've been teaching out of a closet at home since March and it continues this fall. As a teacher, it cuts both ways: I've gone a month into the new year without having once met my students IRL. Tough to really know who's learning the lesssons. On the other hand, my double computer Zoom setup and the handy French press offer some mitigation. I record each class and post the video along with a copy of the presentation materials.

The first lesson of the day starts at 7:50. I suppose I could just about roll out of bed 5 feet away and power up the Zoom meeting in 5 minutes. But I need a bit more and figure the kids do, too. So ... this year, I've taken to starting the Zoom 5 minutes before "the bell" and cranking out some music as we wait for all 20 to arrive and pass through the waiting room door.

My selection of music for this use has multiple purposes: learn the kids something they might not have been exposed to in their home culture (we're not in America), as well as set some kind of a tone. At 7:50AM, that's likely to be something to help them get awake, like this:

At 2:20PM. when the students have been through 2 80-minute lessons followed by 3 40-minute lessons and are headed for one last 80 minute session until 3:40, my choice could be another bluegrass bounce, or it could be something along these lines:

Video doesn't stream particularly well through Zoom, so I've been converting YouTubes to mp3s and pumping those out. I've noticed that it is taking considerably more time to manage lessons in the zoom world both in preparations before and in follow up after. The time for downloading, converting and cueing the song seems to be worth it since  feedback from my audience has been positive and has led to learning and discussion beyond the course content: a well-rounded lesson for all, myself included.

blog comments powered by Disqus