Faculty Development at UPC
Have we mentioned lately how much we LOVE our faculty? Because we do! Many of our teachers have one or more college degrees in music from great programs, and our Kindermusik teachers complete certification specifically for that program. But while our teachers are already awesome when they come to us, we believe that the best teachers are lifelong students. In addition to daily communication between teachers about specific students’ needs and progress, we do several other things to help our faculty continually refine and improve their teaching.
Faculty Development meetings are held quarterly for the Piano Academy faculty. Each teacher is trained on how to teach in the Piano Academy’s rotating structure when they are first hired, but at these group meetings we go over updates and changes and share ideas about how to help the Piano Academy run more smoothly and about teaching in general. Everyone brings different things to the table and we always learn from each other!
Individual teacher evaluations happen several times a year for each teacher and give teachers a chance to get feedback from an outside perspective. The Conservatory Director observes each teacher and fills out an evaluation form to answer questions like this:
- Does the teacher use positive and uplifting language in their teaching?
- Does the teacher hold the student to high (but reasonable) standards for passing off assignments?
- Does the teacher adapt his/her teaching to the learning style of the student?
- Does the teacher encourage the student to use the metronome and count out loud while they play?
- Does the teacher take time to problem-solve, answer questions, and try different approaches to help the student understand the concept at hand?
The director then gives the teacher verbal and written feedback about the answers to these (and other) questions and helps the teacher set personal goals to improve their teaching.
Self-evaluation is also important for developing great teaching. At the Piano Academy, we use a video camera to record each teacher and then give them the recording to assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, teachers can observe each other teaching either in person or by watching the videos (don’t worry, videos of our students stay private and only the faculty see them).
Twice a year, our teachers help us give feedback to parents through Piano Academy progress reports. Each teacher writes a few sentences describing the student’s progress, strengths, areas for improvement, and future goals. This is a great opportunity for teachers to reflect on their teaching; when they see what issues are common between several of their students, they can see areas where they might want to change their approach. Parents can request an extra progress report and parent/teacher conference at any time, so detailed feedback is available to students at any point in the semester.
We love seeing progress across our Conservatory community – both in our students and our teachers! If you’d like to meet some of our amazing faculty, give us a call to set up a tour!