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The 3 Biggest Lessons 2020 Taught Us | That Music Teacher

The 3 Biggest Lessons 2020 Taught Us

distance learning music teacher journey music teachers Jul 06, 2021


      I think we should all take a collective sigh of relief: The 2020 school year is finally over! We made it! I don’t think I’ve talked to a single teacher who isn’t glad to put this year behind us. Pandemic teaching is something none of us ever expected, but we did it! Now that summer is here and I’ve had a moment to think, I realize that 2020 wasn’t all bad. There were moments of laughter, of innovation, and of true collaboration. It was an incredibly challenging year, but I think there were still lessons that we can take with us into the new year.


1. Be flexible


      Did anyone have a single lesson go the way they planned this year? It seemed like at every turn there was something changing. Regulations shifted, schools went from remote to in-person (and sometimes back again), schedules changed… Flexibility was a reality for every school this year. As music teachers, we’re always expected to be flexible, but this year truly put us to the test. 

      We had to be flexible not only in schedule, but in HOW we taught this year. We had to be flexible with the idea of what “music making” could even look like with our regulations. The creativity and innovation I saw this year was truly inspiring. No matter what changed, we always remained true to ourselves as music educators. In this next school year when our lessons are interrupted for more “normal” reasons like assemblies and safety drills, and when we can hopefully integrate more of the music making we’re used to, we should look back on the Year of Flexibility and be thankful we’re not living it again! 


2. Be patient


      “Patience is a virtue.” This is a phrase I often struggle with because I can be a rather impatient person. I always have to remind myself to take a breath when I get stuck behind a slow driver on the way to work or there’s a delay in communication of an answer I need. With things always changing in 2020, answers came almost on an as-needed basis. It was hard to accept sometimes because it was never anyone’s “fault” - it was just the reality of the situation!

      We also had to be patient with our students. Remember how frustrated we were with all of the changes and the disappointment we felt about having to cancel various events? Think about how our students felt. They had to navigate all of the pandemic along with us, and sometimes they dropped the ball. It didn’t do anyone any favors to get angry with them. Patience went a long way with building and solidifying relationships this year. Just think: If we can be patient through 2020, we can be patient in any situation! 


3. Be understanding


      Unfortunately, 2020 highlighted the inequality that is the reality in our education system. This inequality has always existed, but it was impossible to ignore once Covid-19 hit. Schools and students in low-income areas or with low socio-economic status were at a significant disadvantage when it came to remote learning. Many students were also facing all sorts of troubles at home: fear of a global pandemic, spotty WiFi for school, the inability to see their friends and family, the list could go on forever. As teachers, we needed to extend empathy to these students and their families. I know I personally extended deadlines and offered mental health check-ins for my students, among other solutions. Empathy and compassion are traits I will definitely be carrying with me into the new school year.


      I think we all should celebrate 2020 being over. None of us signed up to be pandemic teachers! But also remember the lessons we learned along the way. Challenges like this often come with lessons. I know there are more than three out there, so tell us: What are some lessons you are going to take with you into the new school year? Let us know in the comments!

This article was submitted by Rachel Ammons contributing author for Interested in becoming a contributing author? Email resume and writing sample to [email protected]


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