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How many subjects is too many subjects?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by cbmusic88, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Hi all,

    Unfortunately due to a huge reduction on teaching hours for our department next year (8 classes per year in Y8/9 now becoming 6 classes and half of our A level teaching hours have gone to the neighbouring school) I am looking at a somewhat mish-mash of a timetable.
    It currently looks like this per fortnight:
    Music 21 hours
    Music Tech AS/A2 10 hours
    Computer Science 6 hours
    EPQ 4 hours (one class of 20)
    6th form enrichment 2 hours

    Extra-Curricular responsibilities this year include 4 hour long ensembles led by me per week, no plans to reduce this next year unless the lesson planning drives me into the ground. I have been granted one extra hour of PPA to assist me in planning.

    I have never taught music technology and although I can see how it will be excellent CPD for me, there seems to be no urge to actually train me in the subject. I've apparently just got to "believe I can do it" according to the assistant head. What I'm mainly worried about is that this isn't KS3 I'm "pretending" to teach here, this is A Level and it flaming counts!

    Computer Science again I have never taught, but the course leader is a good friend of mine and has created excellent schemes of work AND lesson plans. The computer programming/algorithms side of it is a little terrifying. There are 3 pieces of software that I have to get my head around - I have however been allowed a whole day off timetable to train to use these before delivering the course to year 7 in September. Yippee.

    EPQ/enrichment I am less worried about as the two don't seem to require a huge amount of brain power, just an initially top loaded term of planning and then a rather large amount of marking and one to one sessions.

    Is this the future for us Creative Arts teachers? Do I just suck it up and get on with it and accept that sadly, I will never be a full time music teacher again unless I go for a HoD job?

    What the hell are they going to advertise my post as if I leave at Christmas? 0.4 music/0.175 ICT/0.2 Music Tech/etc etc!

    Posting during the day as I'm off with end-of-term-tonsillitis-potentially-induced-by-stress-or-grotty-year-sevens
    agathamorse likes this.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    if this is the future I dread to see what will happen to education. Will put off even more potential teachers.
    agathamorse and cbmusic88 like this.
  3. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    To me that is a bit scary. I have done it, but it is a great deal hard work amd at the time was was the network manager.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Good to know thank you. Of course the extra frightening bit is that it's not like the new year 7s will be coming in with no knowledge of programming because most of the primary schools now teach it in their ICT lessons.
  5. KB2015

    KB2015 New commenter

    I as an NQT turned up for my first day in September had went from teaching my specialism to teaching 5 different subjects alongside my pastoral duties. It's been a hard year. One day a week I hit extremely unlucky and teach all 5 subjects in 5 different rooms. I'm also a non-EBACC subject so I just think this is the way it is going to work from now on.

    Now I'm at the end of the year I can put a positive spin on it. My ability to think on my feet is second to none when I arrive at another classroom and realise I left my memory stick in the last room. My subject knowledge has improved greatly and I am now supposedly more employable because I'm not a one trick pony.

    It's not easy. However, it is doable. Just make sure that you ask for support and note down what you were given and what was not given. Always good to have that evidence. Also try to get a hold of previous work, especially at A-level. It makes life that much easier when you know exactly where the goalposts lie in a subject that isn't your own.
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  7. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    It isn't necessarily just the future but what it has always been. My timetable for 2001 had:
    A level music
    A level music tech
    BTEC level 2 music
    BTEC level 3 music
    BTEC level 3 music tech
    A level Performance Studies
    BTEC level 3 Drama
    A level Physics

    It certainly kept me on my toes! I'm a classically trained musician and teaching music tech was a steep learning curve but I did have the benefit of higher level maths, science and electronics qualms to support it.
    I'm afraid there will be many in your situation and many without jobs at all. The squeeze on arts subjects is having a serious impact :(.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. wordsworth

    wordsworth Senior commenter

    Could you get time off this term to go to any local school who currently run the A Level course you're being forced to deliver, in order that you could pick their brains, etc? It's all very well 'believing you can do it' until it comes to performance management: everything will suddenly be your fault. It is manifestly unfair to foist all of these things on you without sending you on training courses.
    edited to reflect the info in the post above.
  9. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Thanks for your reply RedQuilt, good to hear that it can be done. How did you go about trying to teach yourself to teach tech? Can you recommend any good books?

    Thanks :)
  10. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    I just read hundreds of books, got techie friends to teach me and sat behind a computer screen for hundreds of hours getting to grips with Cubase and ProTools. Obviously I also spent hours in the studio experimenting too.
    I only taught tech for a year as the dept, newly set up, grew massively the next year so I could be in my comfort zone again.

    Have you got a local university, FE or 6th form college that do tech? I bet they'll have plenty of volunteers willing to get you going and sit in on their work.
  11. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    FYI my colleague was responsible for EPQ tutoring, and she compared it to being a dissertation supervisor at uni! LOTS of marking. LOTS.
  12. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    My son's school have got a non-specialist teaching one of the subjects he's planning to do. Needless to say he's going elsewhere. Do parents know what's happening?
  13. Am_done

    Am_done New commenter

    I doubt it. I worry as a parent for my kids' education. As a teacher, I'd hate to have to teach out of specialism - be just one step ahead of the class and the prospect of observations (which will probably comment on subject knowledge?)
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  14. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Parents do not know, and what will be really difficult is that the students taking Tech next year KNOW that I barely know how to turn the desk on let alone use it.

    I hadn't thought about observations/performance management. Good point. I think I'd better start putting a list of questions together for the head to answer.
    agathamorse, wanet and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Be careful to cover your back now. Put in writing your 'enthusiasm' and willingness to be a flexible team-player, but also identify any training needs for the new subjects. Would it be useful to ask the school to free you to visit other schools teaching the courses, seek out mentors etc etc?

    Don't find yourself in a position in which you are blamed for poor outcomes when you have received insufficient support and cannot evidence your requests for it.
  16. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Absolutely. And get your written 'evidence' of asking for support in hand now.
    agathamorse and cbmusic88 like this.
  17. cbmusic88

    cbmusic88 New commenter

    Thank you both, I will start to build my written evidence now. Very much open to visiting other schools too, hope the school will support. Glad that I have a full time job still but very much considering how long I will stay.
  18. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Agree totally about asking for all the training you need.

    It would be good if you could find a mentor for the music tech - I suspect that if you go to SMT and say "Mr Bloggs at Neighbouring High is willing to help me with the music tech - would it be possible for me to go and spend an afternoon with him before the end of term and again at the start of next", you may be more successful than a less specific request.

    I'd be inclined to suggest that you plan to drop a couple of the ensembles, if you can face it, for the first term. Put it as "better to start them partway through the year, than start in September and then have disappointed kids if I can't keep it up". If you look at the amount of time it's supposed to take to teach an A-level specification, they can hardly expect you to learn the stuff in one hour a week. You never know, it might bring some musical staff in other departments out of the woodwork.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the year 7 computing - there will probably be some who know more than you - that's always been the case with computing - but get them to be "peer helpers".
  19. Zipphorah

    Zipphorah New commenter

    I had to teach a language I don't speak up to GCSE for three years, apparently if you can speak several languages the skills should be transferable.
    I also returned in September one year to see that a class of Hair and Beauty studies had been added to my timetable! If you could see me you'd know that this was ironic.
    I've taught twelve different subjects in the past 5 years- you learn on the job but it's not good for the pupils IMHO.
  20. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    It is often the case that a music teacher has to teach at least one other subject, whether you see that as fortunate or unfortunate. A geography colleague of mine and I once realised that between us, we had taught every subject offered in the school. (They ended up as head of maths...) It will make you adaptable, less fazed by anything thrown at you, and show you are versatile in future job applications. But it is sad that good music teachers get used to plug timetable gaps when their subject gets squeezed.

    As many others have said, as much as possible, anticipate what the issues will be and seek support now. Prioritising the a level music tech, where your teaching really could affect a student's future.

    I taught it during my pgce, in a school with very little tech equipment, and the dept had chosen the modules that most fitted their situation and subject knowledge. Not sure how much you can do that with the new spec. And give the students you have as much access to facilities as you can so that they can work things out and become familiar with the software etc.
    agathamorse likes this.

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