Last week, I taught a lesson. Apart from a brief foray into teaching statistics (it was a compulsory assignment and no, I was not aware of it when I applied to take this course!), it was the first time I’d taught for five months. I planned, rehearsed and worried more than any NQT. What if I couldn’t remember the pupils’ names? What if they behaved badly to test me? What if the work was too easy or too hard for them? What if I couldn’t work the technology? I remembered how complex teaching is, how much of it is about performing, and felt something akin to stage-fright.
Yet the lesson itself was great fun! It was exhilarating to be in the classroom, making music with a great class, finding opportunities to question, challenge and laugh together. Some things were tricky (my ability to play an accompaniment whilst singing the note-names for the melody has deteriorated over the last few months) but I left feeling energised and confident. To experience something that I was familiar with and good at, after several months of new situations, was a real boost. I’ve remembered how tricky and multi-faceted teaching is, but also that I enjoy doing it.
Despite this, I definitely don’t regret the decision to take a break from teaching. The opportunities I’m finding in Canada are wonderful; I’m very grateful for the chance to study full time and to live in a different country. In fact, there are many things about teaching that I don’t miss at all, such as data analysis, risk assessments, finding a way to make Peripetie appealing, and the exhaustion of teaching six lessons in a day with a rehearsal at lunchtime. But I’ve realised that I do miss making music with pupils, particularly singing as part of a group; it’s strange that it’s nearly Christmas but I haven’t had that spine-tingling feeling that comes with being part of a particularly luscious harmony. On the other hand, it’s nearly Christmas and I haven’t lost my voice from singing too loudly, or started shaking with anxiety during the riskiest item in the carol service. It’s not necessarily better or worse – but it is different. And different can be great, but that doesn’t mean that familiarity is not equally valuable from time to time.