Issue 104: The value of lesson reviews

When I first started being a class music teacher, I found the whole business of writing up a lesson review to be very tedious, and on the whole it didn’t happen. As I only taught 5 classes a week, in a small village school of about 150 pupils, it was easy for me to remember the lessons from week to week.

These days, I make a point of writing up a concise but comprehensive review of each lesson. I am now teaching around 420 primary school children, in 8 primary schools, delivering a range of different lessons in class music, samba, djembe, keyboard, recorder and ukulele. Now that takes some remembering!

more tea?


I usually jot down a few comments straightaway after the lesson, an then write a proper review as soon as possible (probably when I have a cup of tea at the end of the day!). The “proper” written review isn’t very long, just a series of comments and statements.


Each review covers a number of important and useful areas. The act as a record of;

  1. what I actually taught (which is often not exactly what is on the plan!). This means that I will know if I have used a particular song or warm up activity with that class. I can also see how far we went along the learning path; did we add the intro and the breaks? Have we combined the G and the C chord in a song yet? Did we learn the second verse of the song?
  2. what worked well, what didn’t work, any unexpected difficulties which I hadn’t anticipated.
  3. any problems with the instruments; for example, the number of the djembe sent back for repair, a need to rethink how we plug in the keyboards or seat the children, how to manage carrying the big xylophone over to the school hall.
  4. notes on particular children; who sings exceptionally well, who hasn’t “found their singing voice”, who is full of contributions to class discussion, who needs support with keeping the pulse. I highlight this part of the review in red, to help with report writing at the end of the year (I am VERY glad that I only have to write or contribute to about 200 of these reports!). Also who should NOT be allowed to sit next to each other…

Writing these lesson reviews helps me reflect on the lesson, and I will usually end up revising future lesson plans (I try and rough out half a term of lessons at a time) based on bright ideas generated by the children’s responses, or from thinking through how the lesson worked (too intense, not enough time for music making, need to improve singing quality, layout of room not working).

In the end, the lesson review is much more than yet another admin task foisted upon the teacher. It is something for you: an opportunity to become a better teacher, delivering a better musical experience to the children in your charge. If you are not regularly reviewing your lessons, I recommend that you give it a “proper go”. Keeping track of your teaching, and of the progress of the children will improve your effectiveness as a teacher.

cat in a box



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