The Teaching Artist Evaluative Report
Observed Teaching Practice Feedback from Mary Troup
Observed Teaching Practice Feedback from Bob Marshall
The Teaching Artist Evaluative Report for Observed Teaching Practice
My Observed Teaching Practice was a really positive experience. Observed by both my supervisor Mary Troup and my peer mentor Bob Marshall, in this lesson, I worked with 5 Community Music students at varying stages of study (three CM1 students; one CM2 student and one Masters Level Community Music student).
Overall, I feel that my lesson was well received and I believe that it was a meaningful and engaging learning experience for the students involved. I believe that the learners found the prepared activities to be interesting and within the hour there was a very inspiring dynamic of working creatively and collaboratively with musical ideas and improvisation; working individually and as an ensemble; sharing and presenting. 
(Personal Journal Reflection, 18th March 2015)
The lesson plan for my Observed Teaching Practice was devised to complement Learning Outcome 1 of the Community Music Module.
LO1 – Design, implement, document and evaluate a community music project in collaboration with peers, demonstrating a range of creative, organisational and inter-personal skills informed by the professional attitudes and values required for community music practice and reflecting on the experience gained in the process.
I identified 3 Learning Outcomes in relation to the above. By the end of the lesson, I hoped that learners would be able to begin to:
- Reflect on a first-hand experience of active participation and engagement in a creative approach to group music making that is inspired by the Orff Schulwerk approach to Music, Dance and Speech Education.
- Recognise the progressive stages within the group music making process; the balance between teacher led and learner led activity; the different ways in which information is presented in order to complement visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile learning styles.
- Adapt and translate this model to complement and inform individual and collaborative creative practice and teaching practice within the Community Music module.
After the lesson, I emailed the student group sharing my proposed learning outcomes for the session and I asked for reflections, with regards to what extent these learning outcomes may have been achieved, to be included within ongoing Community Music Reflective Journaling Practice. As Community Music students keep Reflective Journals as part of their ongoing studies, I am looking forward to reading reflections in the near future. I am particularly interested in the third outcome as I am keen to discover how each learner may adapt this creative process and/or repertoire for their own work in Community Music.
In addition, I asked the student group, via email, also for some immediate feedback following the lesson. Inspired by Stephen Brookfield’s Critical Incident Questionnaire , I asked the following questions:
In today’s lesson:
What did you find most engaging and/or enjoyable?
What did you find most challenging?
What did you find most surprising?
Any other feedback?
(Email to student group immediately after Observed Lesson, 9th March 2015)
To date, I have received feedback from one student which I have used to inform and structure the following evaluation of my teaching practice. Feedback from my tutor Mary Troup and my peer mentors Bob Marshall and Diana Loosmore have also informed this reflective evaluation of my work.
Question – What did you find most engaging and/or enjoyable?
Student Answer – I liked the fact that you lead some of the session without explaining and you used repetition to allow time to pick up what was happening, I think this is more useful than explaining at times.
It is interesting to note that this student was engaged when I led some of the lesson without ‘explaining’, which I understand to mean in a verbal sense. For some time, I have been exploring how I can lead through use of body, gesture and facial expression . Leading in a visual sense and/or sharing information kinaesthetically/tactilely is something that I find very interesting. I am intrigued by mime and the physicality of communication. From my experience, when expressed clearly, non-verbal forms of communication, in addition to space and time for repetition, can be engaging and motivating for the learner, as this piece of feedback supports.
Question – What did you find most challenging?
Student Answer – Challenging was doing the hand body percussion patterns in the speech pattern that took a little time to pick up as it was really quick to begin with.
I agree with the feedback that the hand and body percussion patterns were ‘really quick to begin with’. My immediate reflection after the lesson was that perhaps the pace of some activities had been a little too fast at times. During the lesson, I was aware that collectively the learners were gaining momentum and speed as we engaged with the hand and body percussion patterns and I was not sure if I should continue to match the tempo of the group or if I should try to pull back the tempo of the activity. The group was responding to each activity rather playfully and enthusiastically, which I deduced from body language and facial expressions; there was definitely a strong collective energy but, naturally, activities are more challenging if the pace is too fast. In the last few minutes of the lesson, I asked the group for one word reflections connected to their immediate experience of the lesson; this is something that I have been exploring over the last few months . Two offerings were ‘energised’ and ‘clarity’. Generally speaking, I feel that it is really healthy to have a dynamic energy within a lesson and clarity, in my opinion, is essential. However, I do not feel that energy and pace are dependent on speed. After discussing these points with my supervisor, Mary Troup, she encouraged me to explore ‘checking in with learning’ at various points within the lesson. This is something that I plan to do more of in my future teaching practice. From our discussion, I understand that ‘checking in’ need not always be an in depth activity. By pausing and asking learners how they are finding the activity or what they understand from the task, and then responding accordingly, the teacher is able to ensure that learners are more fully present in their learning and more able to engage with the task to hand.
My own personal reflection and of course this feedback are very important for me to acknowledge and take forward as I continue to refine and enhance my teaching practice. Some of the challenges that I face when teaching in Higher Arts Education (HAE), which I would like to explore more fully, especially over the next few months, are in relation to pace and level of complexity. It is interesting to have the opportunity to work with young learners and HAE students in my teaching practice. Over the last decade, I have studied with the British Kodály Academy and the Orff Schulwerk Institute and I have studied Music Education for children and young people. Much of this work has addressed, in great detail, the pace, progression and complexity of activities for young learners. Working with adult learners, in the context of working with HAE students, I am often a little unsure with regards to pace; how much repetition and explanation is necessary; how much knowledge and understanding can be assumed and to what extent I may need to break down an activity. I am always fearful of patronising adult learners by over teaching what may be considered to be tacit knowledge, or setting a pace that may be deemed ‘too slow’ or ‘too easy’. This is also challenging because in my teaching for Community Music, I am mostly teaching, what may be described as elemental musical activities, these activities are for HAE students to embrace as both learners and teachers.
Through studying on the PG Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education, my awareness of different kinds of learning, knowledge and understanding has been heightened. After my Observed Teaching Practice, my reflective practice has enabled me to realise that although the HAE students that I work with have extremely developed musical knowledge and skills, I should not assume that every related musical activity is automatic. For example, reading and playing a rhythmic motif from a score; transcribing a rhythmic motif after listening to it being performed and embodying the same rhythmic motif as a body percussion pattern are very separate activities. Although the musical stimulus, in this example, a rhythmic motif, is the same it is being translated in different ways through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic/tactile learning. This reinforces to me the importance of sharing information in different ways, with the ‘VAKT Learning Styles’ model in mind and to ‘check in’ with learning more often as although someone may have an intellectual or auditory understanding of a musical stimulus they may need more space and time to transfer this kinaesthetically and vice versa.
My tutor Mary Troup has also drawn my attention to the ‘Conscious Competence’ model , which can be simply understood in the following way:
Learners or trainees tend to begin at stage 1 – ‘unconscious incompetence’.
They pass through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’, then through stage 3 – ‘conscious competence’.
And ideally end at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’. 
This model is very useful in helping me to understand the different stages of learning. In relation to my example, an HAE student learner may have an ‘unconscious competence’ when reading and playing a rhythmic motif from a score (within reason, of course) but this may change to ‘conscious incompetence’ or ‘conscious competence’, when the same rhythmic motif is being communicated through a body percussion pattern, or, is being notated from an audio stimuli into a written format. It is therefore essential for teachers to provide safe and supportive environments where learners can nurture their competences for different activities and skills. As every learner has their own unique profile, in relation to learning competences, teachers need to provide opportunities so that learners can approach their learning in different ways. I believe that this leads to richer meaning, holistic understanding and overall enhancement of knowledge and skills.
Question – What did you find most surprising?
Student Answer – Surprising was the walking round the room I didn’t expect that and it took a little time to feel comfortable with it.
This feedback is interesting as it connects with my Online Discussion task which can be found at the following link:
In my Online Discussion, I was asked about the physicality of my lesson:
“I am wondering and thinking of your sessions as a dancer and wondered if the students were so absorbed into the tasks that they were aware or unaware of their physicality involved?”
(Feedback from Diana Loosmore, 24th March 2015)
Perhaps I can conclude from the feedback given from this learner that she had an awareness of the physicality of this movement based warm up and it felt surprising to begin in this way, it was not her expectation. It is interesting to read that Diana Loosmore, a Contemporary Dance teacher at the RCS, also explores similar warm ups in her teaching practice.
“That is interesting that you use that approach in music and your teaching. I also like to use the space immediately and connect the students to it and each other by walking around the room making eye contact and then taking it into a physical connection. For me it’s a nice ice breaker and a way in immediately. Instead of just standing in front of them it’s also nice to participate with them for those moments too.”
(Feedback from Diana Loosmore, 25th March 2015)
In the Orff Schulwerk approach, Music, Dance and Speech are valued in equal importance. In this multi-disciplinary approach, activities weave between having musical prominence to movement or linguistic prominence. In my Final Proposal for Approaches to Critical Artistry, I asked the following question:
How can I connect with creative dance and dance improvisation work within the RCS and connect this to my work for Community Music? 
In my initial PDP Template, I highlighted one goal as to connect with creative dance and movement practitioners within the RCS. I am excited to receive this feedback from Diana Loosmore and I am looking forward to more discussions in the future. I am really keen to uncover how I can creatively incorporate more movement work into my teaching practice, exploring how this can be done gently and sensitively, for music students beginning movement work.
Question – Any other feedback?
Student Answer – Your way of explaining activities is really good and I like that you smile a lot and give as much informative information that is needed and no more.
I appreciate this feedback as I am often concerned about speaking too much during a lesson. It is something that I have been aware of and have been working with for quite some time and so this feedback is certainly reassuring.
 McCluskey, C. 2015 Teaching Artist Observed Teaching Practice Reflections [online] Available from: https://carolinemccluskey.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/teaching-artist-observed-teaching-practice-reflections/
 Brookfield, S. Critical Incident Questionnaire [online] Available from: http://www.stephenbrookfield.com/Dr._Stephen_D._Brookfield/Critical_Incident_Questionnaire_files/CIQ.pdf (Accessed 09.03.2015)
 McCluskey, C. 2015 Critical Appraisal Paper [online] Available from: https://carolinemccluskey.wordpress.com/critical-appraisal-paper/
 McCluskey, C. 2015 One Word Reflections [online] Available from: https://carolinemccluskey.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/one-word-reflections/
 McCluskey, C. 2015 VAK VAKT VARK Learning Styles Model [online] Available from: https://carolinemccluskey.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/vak-vakt-vark-learning-styles-models/
 Chapman, A. 2015 Conscious Competence Learning Model [online] Available from: http://www.businessballs.com/consciouscompetencelearningmodel.htm [Accessed 23.04.2015]
 McCluskey, C. 2014 Final Proposal ACA [online] Available from: https://carolinemccluskey.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/final-proposal-aca-pdf-version1.pdf