I love podcasts! I got addicted to them when I was commuting 25 miles one way to work for two years. Now that I’m not commuting so far I still love to listen to them. Folding laundry is not so bad when I have a fascinating podcast to listen to. I feel like I learn so much from them! A new podcast I have been listening to is called “The Hidden Brain” hosted by Shankar Vedantam. I found Episode 4 on students and teachers really fascinating, you can listen to it here.
The main concept in this episode was that students perform better when they feel like they have something in common with their teacher. Here’s another blog post about the research behind the podcast if you are interested in reading into this a little more: How Similarities Could Improve Teacher Student Relationships. What was the biggest take-away for me? I need to take the time to get to know my students’ interests outside of piano and to share with them things that we share in common.
For example, I have many students who also take dance or ballet. While I don’t typically share a lot about my personal life with my students, I have shared with some of my students who also dance that I started taking ballet class this summer (read more about my experiences in ballet class here). I also love to tell them that they are probably way better than me. Hopefully by sharing this with my students they feel like we have some common interest. They also see that I am just a person who happens to be good at piano, but I still have a lot of learning to do myself!
Another way you can connect with students is to give students a short survey about themselves. After they’ve filled it out talk through it together. I love this survey from Wendy Stevens at ComposeCreate, you could use her format or create your own. I challenge you this week to seek out and find similarities you share with your students. Hopefully you will feel more connected and help your students progress more quickly in their piano studies!
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.