To be an effective teacher, it is important to be an effective learner.
By committing to learning, great teachers create better learning environments for their students. Engaging in learning opportunities that are playful, open-ended, and ambitious enables teachers to offer similarly challenging curricula in the classroom.
For these reasons, it is critical for music teachers to engage in professional development throughout their careers. The only way for music learning to evolve is for music instructors to adapt and improve their learning styles as new methods and teaching become available. In order to inspire young musicians to be creative, music teachers need to add to their understanding of the artistic process.
After completing many years of higher education, the thought of disrupting your schedule for more instruction about teaching might seem superfluous or even unhelpful. Since your time both in and outside of the classroom is valuable, this is understandable. On the other hand, every music educator stands to reap huge rewards both professionally and personally from engaging in professional development.
Taking advantage of professional development programs can benefit music teachers in many ways. Not only will educators get acquainted with the most current ideas and research in music education, but they will also acquire improved teaching techniques and classroom management skills. Clearly, professional development is beneficial whether you’ve been in the profession for a few years or a few decades.
Educators and Their Students Reap the Benefits of Other Perspectives
One of the most important reasons for adding to your teaching skills is because no educator knows all there is to know about how music should be taught. By participating in clinics or seminars, educators can benefit from both the speakers and fellow participants. In other words, educators can sharpen their skills by listening to other viewpoints and hearing about their colleagues’ experiences. To strengthen their understanding of the craft, music educators should learn from each other throughout their careers.
Educators Need to Maintain Their Thirst for Knowledge
It doesn’t take that much time in the classroom before teachers settle into routines and form habits and ideas about what ’s expected of them. While these things aren’t necessarily harmful to their growth, they can be if they stunt their curiosity. When teachers are curious about their profession, they are more likely to pursue additional education and training. If they can acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, they will be open to different teaching methods, outside ideas, and newly available research. In as sense, it helps for educators to be able to switch places with their students. By remaining open to different ideas and remembering how they experienced music for the first time, educators can keep their thirst for knowledge alive. Furthermore, professional development through workshops, conferences, or even online training can help educators gain perspective about their students’ needs. For educators who have become set in their ways, it ’s all about reigniting their own curiosity about the subject matter.
Obstacles to Continuing Education for Music Teachers
Unfortunately, there are some obstacles for music teachers trying to continue their education. Many blame a lack of time due to the constant demands of their classrooms. While classroom hours may not seem very long, afterschool meetings and paperwork can extend workdays to as much as 12 hours or more. It comes as no surprise that teachers wouldn’t want to devote even more time to their job. Nevertheless, educators need to understand how much they can benefit from professional development. In actuality, the skills and methods they acquire through these workshops and conferences may help them manage their time more effectively in the classroom.
In addition, many longtime teachers feel too burnt out to add to their music education. In fact, one of the biggest problems facing education nowadays is teacher attrition due to burnout. For this reason, attending extra clinics or classes might not seem enticing to music educators already exhausted by their schedules. Nevertheless, additional education could be just what a jaded educator needs to reinvigorate their teaching. Moreover, a big part of music educator development deals with how to inspire teachers and stave off mid-career burnout. Another factor which can hold teachers back from professional development is a lack of funding. With many educators having trouble paying their bills, it may be a bit of a stretch to pay for additional classes. However, most educators have access to grants and other sources of funding that can offset the costs of workshops and seminars geared to raising their performance.
Professional Development Opportunities
Luckily, there’s a wealth of different professional development options out there for music educators to choose from. Many are sponsored by music companies, schools, and education initiatives aimed at advancing music education. We’ve explored some of these opportunities below.
One of the fastest ways to further your education, music teacher workshops are usually hosted by different organizations throughout the school year. They also tend to be relatively inexpensive and take place for a few hours on a weekend day. They usually have the advantage of being local, so travel isn’t an issue. While they may not be as involved as out-of-town conferences, you can still make strong connections with other local music teachers.
This kind of training is perfect for music teacher professional development. Usually, conferences are kicked off by a headliner who will outline key points before the educators break off into smaller sessions, which may rotate throughout the day. Because you may have to travel and stay somewhere out of town, these trainings can cost more than workshops and require more time. They also provide the kind of in-depth learning experience that accelerates your music education and helps you to form strong ties with your colleagues.
Graduate classes are another way to continue your music education. The biggest advantage to this kind of instruction is that you’ll have credits upon completion, which you can apply towards a higher degree or a better pay rate. Generally, these courses run the length of a semester or about 4 weeks during the summer. Graduate classes usually involve substantial projects, research, and papers. However, these assignments can really help your teaching. Although these classes tend to be more expensive, many schools offer the convenience of online instruction nowadays.
A trend in professional development accelerated by the spread of Covid, many companies offer online training alongside in-person classes. Not only are many of these courses less expensive than traditional workshops, but you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to attend them. On the other hand, it can be difficult to stay motivated or form lasting connections with like-minded colleagues online.
Whatever method you prefer, it is important to realize how valuable professional development is to your career. It will open you up to new ways of teaching and it will help you to inspire your students. It can also help you form lifelong bonds with colleagues who will help you to stay motivated and move forward in your profession. If you want to become the best music teacher you can be, then professional development is something you need to participate in throughout your career.