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student capability during isolation: my timely reminder

I'm lucky enough to live in a part of the world that, for the most part, is no longer in immediate or direct danger from coronavirus. For that reason, I'm able to reopen my studio for those students who'd like to come back for face-to-face lessons. This is great news for me, as I've missed having students in studio very much, but I've found the lack of interruption to students' progress throughout my eight weeks teaching entirely online very encouraging.

As a proponent of believing in students' utter capability regardless of age, I wouldn't have thought I had much room left to be surprised at them proving themselves, but they have surpassed even my expectations.

In my experience, the platform I used for lessons didn't matter too much. I used FaceTime, Skype and even Facebook calls depending on what was most convenient for students and their families at the time and the difference was imperceptible. What mattered was that I showed up, they showed up, and we worked together to make sure we got as much out of their session as we could through a screen. We used emails, google documents and text messages to send resources, demonstration videos and information back and forth. Again, it didn't really matter which - as long as the information landed where it needed to.

Students were more inclined to stop during online lessons if they didn't understand something, because they were often required to rely on their own ability without me singing or playing along with them. They were more likely to annotate their own work, highlighting repeated motifs and writing lettering in for songs or sections where they wanted it. In place of stickers, I had students drawing themselves pictures as a reward for finishing a page in their book. Many of those with access to a printer at home printed their own resources where needed. A few students have noticeably improved their ability to match pitch after being forced to do so in a "I sing, you sing" warmup format - necessary when dealing with the lag on video platforms.

In most cases, I still sit on the side of the fence prioritising face to face contact with students, taking up the same space that nurtures learning as best it can. After around 170 online lessons (after teaching only one student online previously) though, I have even more belief in my base line - all we really need is a teacher that wants to teach the student in front of them and a student being given the space to learn to the best of their capability - whether they're sitting in the same room or not.

All the best to my fellow teachers still teaching online and with a longer road ahead of them than the one I've had here <3

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