You need the strength of Hercules to be a music teacher. Or else I am doing something wrong.
I stagger into the school loaded up with a handbag – more like my life-support system (2kg), a djembe (7kg), a samba bag containing repinique, extra samba mallets for playing samba funk, plastic repinique sticks for samba reggae (4kg), my packed lunch, and The Backpack (5kg). Sometimes I add my Roland mini-cube amplifier (4kg) as well.
Wow! That’s 22kg if I tried to carry everything into a school! The mad thing is that on some days, that’s what I seem to do; take a day when I am teaching samba and djembe at the same school, I’m having trouble with their sound system so I want my own kit, and my schedule means that I arrive about an hour early so can usefully catch up with some planning on my laptop on a spare table in the staff room… It’s no wonder I arrive at the school entrance puffing like a steam engine and unable to speak into the entryphone.
So what should I do?
I’ve tried to unload my handbag, but without success. As soon as I remove an item, it becomes the one thing I desperately need NOW.
The music backpack steadily increases in weight as the term progresses. This is what it currently contains:
A green file full of lesson plans and inventories and general paperwork for each of the schools I work in, and also several sheets of sticky stars.
A wallet full of spare name badges.
Another wallet (which is Very Heavy) full of laminated rhythm cards. I always need this when I have left it behind, so it has to come with me every time.
A couple of resource books. I should really just scan and print the couple of pages I need, but I was in a hurry so just grabbed the books.
A packet of tissues. Essential. Believe me. Some of those infants. Ugh. I’m also planning to add a little thingy of hand santiser; I’ve got a spare in the car. Also essential.
A power pack for a keyboard, which I forgot to put back into the cupboard and will now have to carry round with me for the whole week until I am back in that school.
Two laminated A4 sheets, one with music lines, one plain. These are very useful for writing things up for the whole class to look at when I am working in a space with no whiteboard facilities.
A small laptop.
A pencil case with about 20 pencils, an eraser, a sharpener (the sort that collects the shavings) half-a-dozen glue sticks for gluing in hand outs, a couple of whiteboard pens which actually work, and a cloth for wiping the board or A4 laminated sheet clean afterwards.
A small shaker for impromptu rhythm improvisation games.
Dilly the Dog – a hand puppet. He knows where to find “D” on the keyboard, and also likes standing in for Leo the Lion.
I wish I could manage with less; indeed I do sometimes leave the laptop behind. Or chuck the resource books out before I leave. However bitter experience has taught me that, as with my handbag, as soon as I purge it, I find myself regretting the items I have removed.
There has to be a way, but I haven’t found it yet! Suggestions welcome…