From one music teacher to another, here are some things to keep in mind before starting or accepting a new music job. Feel free to share your own ideas or checklist!
Part 1 of this post is about good stuff to know before starting in a new job. Part 2 will outline some fun stuff – stuff that’s good to pack and have at hand!
Stuff to find out in advance – my personal checklist
- Clarify exactly what it is you’re expected to teach! It might sound obvious, but I like to check exactly which instruments I’ll be covering. I’ll never forget turning up to teach ‘small group woodwind classes’, only to find that I was in fact going to cover a whole class of overly excited beginner trumpeters. I don’t play the trumpet.
- The school behaviour policy. Children will walk all over you if you clearly have no idea of the rules and consequences they follow at school. Furthermore, knowing the behaviour policy helps children to see you as a ‘proper teacher’, rather than a fun extra who pops up for their amusement for half an hour a week. I like to request the policy in advance, read it, and know who to contact if behaviour issues escalate.
- Find out who will be dealing with instrument acquisitions/repairs at the school. Do they have a supply of spare strings/reeds at the ready? Are repairs (of which there will be many – I’ve found it’s important not to underestimate the temptation young children feel to use bows as swords) dealt with privately or through a local authority?
- Find out what documentation you need to acquire and bring on the first day. In the UK this usually means bringing the physical copy of your DBS certificate as well as some kind of photo identity document.
- Clarify contact arrangements with parents/carers. Are you ever expected to make direct contact home, for example to arrange schedules or send reports? Generally the answer is no, but it’s good to be clear about this from the get-go, as I’ve found that there are some exceptions, especially when teaching in private schools.
- Check, learn and respect Safeguarding documents. Safeguarding is so important, and I remember being shocked by the scope and complexity of this S word when I first started teaching. I like to check that I have all of the latest policies and whether there is any upcoming staff training.
- Clarify anything to do with the position in writing! Discussing any of the above points over the phone is great, but I immediately follow up by summarising everything in an email. If it’s not written down, it’s not official.