A New Way of Learning: Appreciation for Teachers During Remote Instruction

a new way of learning

With the current teaching situation, educators are using their computers to make videos for explaining assignments, demonstrations, and notes of encouragement. How do you feel when you hit that record button? Do you feel a wave of anxiety? Are you trying to remember all of your talking points? Do you have to record yourself 20 times before you are happy with how it came out? Imagine how that feels for a student who is recording and submitting their work to you. Recording yourself is hard. 

I have noticed with my own kids, who have outwardly been adapting quite well to at-home instruction, that when they have to record themselves to upload for an assignment (music or other class), things change. Their demeanor changes. They go from happily sharing their exciting thoughts and comments about what they are learning, to a more concerned and worried feeling, not sharing their real selves. When the ‘record’ button is pushed their inner perfectionist shines through and the cycle of “do it again” begins. The cycle consists of deciding if this recording was better than the last one, or if it is just, good enough. Sometimes, these assignments turn into a true source of frustration for them and they sometimes feel defeated by a seemingly innocuous assignment. Actually, the assignments are fantastic and given with the best of intentions and many of them go off without a hitch. But then there are those few that make me remember, this isn’t easy. 

Video assignments are a relatively new way of learning. Something we all need to keep in mind is how our students (and our own children) are feeling as they approach this type of learning. If they were nervous before about class presentations or public speaking, remember this form of public speaking may heighten those feelings. We have to remember that for the student who wants to get it right, the word or note they fumbled on might truly ruin their day or bring them to tears. Just like before, teachers and parents are partners and a team in educating the whole child. I will continue to support our teachers in their amazing work and I will support my children as they go through the ups and downs, successes, and defeats of their learning. We talk through these challenges with our kids and make video assignments a learning experience to grow from where they can learn how to accept imperfection as well as understanding the content of the assignment itself. That sounds a lot like what we teach kids through music, doesn’t it? Yes, we teach them notes, rhythms, musicality, beauty, and humanity. But we also teach them how to learn and grow as people who have to learn to navigate ‘life.’

I want to applaud all of the teachers in our local school district—they have been amazing in their preparation and delivery of meaningful instruction. It is incredible to witness and they will forever have our support and thankfulness. With almost no notice they moved all online and have truly kept in close contact with our kids through their thoughtful messages, notes, video chats, and even a teacher parade of cars passing by the house. Yes, we all cried together. I know that my own community is just a snapshot of the greater picture of all educators far and wide. Now, more than ever, I hope you feel appreciated—because you are. To all teachers, on behalf of parents everywhere, I say THANK YOU. I am very hopeful that your feeling of support continues to grow and that the partnership in learning becomes even stronger as parents support the hard work you do every single day.

Chris Bernotas

Composer, conductor, clinician, and educator Chris M. Bernotas (b.1969) earned a Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson University and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. As Director of String Publications for Alfred Music, he draws upon his 28-year experience as an instrumental music teacher in New Jersey, and brings an energetic and enthusiastic approach to the world of music education.

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