Partnerships are a fact of life although we may not realise it. Very few humans actually live and work in a vacuum which means we inevitably have to form partnerships with others to get through life.
Teachers have a central role in the broader context of music education and can only exist by bringing together stakeholders such as Schools, education authorities, parents and of course students themselves in effective partnerships. Of course we have a fundamental partnership with our students, and this should be a two way process. The time when the teacher dictates everything that happens in a lesson should really be confined to history. That said, it should never be the case that students take control of the lesson, after all they will probably never learn anything in that scenario. The middle way is that a teacher should create a sense of ownership in the student, that they are having in a input and take responsibility for their own learning within a framework that the teacher sets. This is supplemented by the policies and procedures of outside organisations, Health and safety and safeguarding polices set boundaries that keep children safe by ensuring transparency in the way that schools and visiting teachers deal with young people, equal opportunities ensure that all students can learn in a positive atmosphere without suffering discrimination. Many schools also have policies which encourage teamwork and social responsibility to develop social skills and community involvement.
There are though other partnerships which are important, parents being the next in line and often have different priorities for the children that perhaps you do as a teacher. I find it vitally important to form a working relationship with them at the commencement of lessons. It is vital that we make clear how we are going to proceed and what boundaries you will set, also goals that you agree with the student should also be relayed and understood by the parents although they should not have a veto over your plans.
Of course when we work for other organisations then we get all sort of other support. This partnership allows a school such as the Elgar School of Music, state schools or independent schools to provide teaching rooms, liase with students and parents if necessary, invoice and receive payments so they can pay us and deal with new enquiries. This is an immensely valuable resource for teachers and shouldn’t be underestimated as I know only too well. I also run my own teaching practise and employ others to work in schools so I have to deal with a lot more of those issues. Firstly I have to negotiate with schools over fees and how to generate more students, I then have to invoice the parents and chase payments which can be a frustrating and time consuming task in itself so the whole process of teaching involves forming effective partnerships to facilitate the musical learning of children and young people.
Part of a partnership with other bodies is the importance of understanding and adhering to the policies of that body, and they will take precedence over those of your own organisation. For example many schools will have an anti bullying policy and it is important that a teacher understand what is required under the policy. The first action though may be deal with it at source. There will often be an obvious flash point, an argument or someone misbehaving and concentrating perhaps on winding someone up rather than paying attention to what you are saying. The first thing to do is to move them apart so that there is some distance between them. This will make it obvious if there is one protagonist as they may well turn their attention to annoying someone else. If the behaviour continues it may be necessary to take them aside and try and find out what the problem is. Perhaps they are bored and not engaging with the subject at hand or perhaps there are other issues that need dealing with. It would be advisable to ensure that the responsible member of staff at the school is aware of the issue and what you have done to deal with it which may highlight other issues which are having an impact on their lesson. As a very last resort they could be excluded from one or more lessons but that is something that should be done in partnership with the school and with their active support. .