5 Tips to Being Present with Students


Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 51. Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast. Today, I’d like to just give you five quick tips to help you be present for your students.

Now, I say this with much love and much understanding, because this is something that I have struggled with, I really do struggle to be present, and give myself to my students every lesson.

So I thought, let’s get some of these ideas down. Things that have helped me recently, because I think I’m a lot better at doing this now than I was. So maybe you could benefit from a little bit of my experience. And I’m just going to share five quick tips.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript of episode 051 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.

What is the Purpose of Being Present with Students?

So first, why would I bother at all? I think it’s because our work and our lives are so busy, that’s very much an overused word, isn’t it busy? And I try very hard to not answer when people say how are you, I try to not say I’m busy, I’m developing a bit of a hatred of that word.

But anyway, that’s an aside, the fact is that we do have a lot to do, all the time, we teach hundreds of students. I know, in the case of the system I work in, 25 to 30 students at a time, depending on age, we have to cover all of the concepts within our curriculum, we have to teach repertoire, we have to manage their behaviour, we have to assess, we have to report, we have to engage the children, we have to differentiate for all of those said hundreds of children, we have to inspire them, motivate them, I just think teaching, like you just have to be superhuman to do all of those things.

And that’s just our work life, I’m not even going to go into personal life, and balancing how you have a family or friends, or a home, or a social life, or any of those things while you teach. I’m just in this episode, going to talk about work and about being present at your work with your children.

Tip #1: Forget the To-Do List

So with all of that background in mind, here is the first little tip. And by the way, they may be little tips, but they’re all easier said than done. So first one, forget the To Do list.

My To Do list is massive. My To Do list is also in many different places. I have one in my computer, as an Excel Doc, I have a notebook. Actually, that’s not true. I have a couple of notebooks. I am trying to amalgamate so that it makes some sort of sense. I have a diary, I have been a user of the Full Focus planner from Michael Hyatt, fabulous. I’m giving that a little break.

I’m just trying to refine my systems. I have sticky notes, I have them around the place, I have a whiteboard here in front of me with stuff written on it, I have things everywhere. When I’m working at school, I will write things on the whiteboard so that I don’t forget them.

My To Do list is not organised and it’s massive, right? So forget it.

When you’re teaching, forget that To Do list. You just have to silence your inner dialogue, all of those things that you’re telling yourself that you have to do or should do silence it, remind yourself that it’s actually not about you. It’s actually about the students in front of you. It’s not about you. So that’s little tip one, forget the To Do list.

Tip #2: Time with Your Students is Irreplaceable!

Tip number two, remind yourself that what you’re doing right there in the moment with those students, that time with them is irreplaceable, you will never have that time again, remind yourself of that.

You know, when you make eye contact with the children, with particular children and you get that exchanged, you know, they feel they’ve been seen, and you try to do that several times in a lesson. You can’t do that if you’re worried about all of the other things you’ve got to do. You’ve got to focus on them. That little smile that you give them. It’s special.

They think that’s just for them and it is, you are present for them. You are telling them, you have seen them, you’ve heard them, you recognise them. That joy, that interpersonal human contact with individuals. It cannot be replaced. If you don’t use that time for those things.

If you are preoccupied with all of the other things you have to do, then you’ve lost that time with that child, that group of children, you will never have it again. So remind yourself that that time with these children is irreplaceable. If I don’t give them my best for their half hour of instruction, 25 minutes or whatever you’ve got them for, then that’s the time you get them for that week, you might not have them next week, it might be a holiday, certain children might be away. It’s a sports day next week, it could be weeks before you see them again. So this time is valuable and irreplaceable. So remind yourself of that.

Tip #3: Each Child Deserves Your Full Attention

Third little tip to being present is, again, it’s a reminder, most of these are reminders, it’s really about mindset, isn’t it? Each child deserves your full attention, every one of those children, some need your attention more than others, some will grow and benefit from your attention more than others, but each child needs and deserves your attention. So remind yourself of that, that each child deserves your attention.

Tip #4: Gain Freedom By Living in the Moment

Fourth tip is to just remind yourself that you will gain a kind of freedom when you live in that moment, with your students.

There is a freedom and a magic that happens in that time. It’s almost in the nature of music, itself, that that making of music together in that time, in that space is just for that time, and special for that time and makes impact in the future, certainly, but it’s this certain magic about that time.

So the freedom and that time, don’t waste that, grab that freedom of working with those children.

Tip #5: Be Grounded in the Present

And I guess the fifth tip to remaining present is just to remind yourself to be grounded, grounded in the now not in the past, not in the future. Be grounded in the now this now this time you have with these children. That’s what you’ve got. It’s where you are right now. Enjoy it, you make the most, of it be grounded.

So they’re my five quick tips to go over them again.

  • Forget the To Do list.
  • Remind yourself that time with your children is irreplaceable.
  • Remind yourself that every child deserves and needs your full attention.
  • Revel in that sort of freedom that you get when you live in the moment with your students.
  • And five, stay grounded in the now, not live in the past or worry about the future. Be grounded in the now we have so much stress in our lives, working in a school is it’s just, oh, let’s just say a big jungle of all sorts of things, personalities and systems and issues. There’s a lot going on, so why not relax, and pay attention to the kids in front of you at that time.

I hope you found those little tips useful, at least useful reminders. Enjoy your time with the kids.

Thank you for joining me for this podcast. Don’t forget, you’ll find the show notes and transcript and all sorts of information on crescendo.com.au. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast or found it valuable, you might like to rate it on your podcast player and leave a review. I’d really appreciate it if you did. All I can be as the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you.

Until next time, bye.


This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education connecting supporting and inspiring music educators. In the show notes you’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms. Pplease connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member, for a low annual fee you can access hundreds of files worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops and webinars and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.

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