As a student studying to be a biology teacher, I wanted to understand how I could be more inclusive in the classroom. After hearing about Play On in a lecture I emailed them and asked if I could spend some time in their workshops and see how they incorporated inclusiveness into their classes.

 

They were very welcoming and in total I spent 26 hours observing and taking part in group and one to one sessions.

 

Below are some valuable lessons that I learnt and hope to take into the classroom.

 

At Play On all participants are regarded as musicians and that’s how I will refer to them here.

 

Relevancy, Ownership and Choice 

 

The tutorials and group work involve the musicians composing their own piece of music on an instrument that they have chosen to work with. The piece of music is inspired by their lives, their mood, their name, or what they did on Friday night.

 

The music that is developed by the musicians through collaboration and experimentation is successful due to the full participation of each musician. This involves their commitment to listen and practice the piece.

 

Often a theme develops as the music develops and the musicians are given the option to name it or visualise it or even change it. This provides a variety of sensory and collaborative options for the individual members.

 

Confidence in your Competence 

 

Tutors are competent in their instrument which gives them the ability to facilitate the sessions effectively. They are able to be flexible and allow the musicians to venture down any path they want to go. This means that in the group sessions whatever the musicians choose to play is recognised, valued and worked into the bigger piece.

 

The tutors have the competence to give genuine praise and reassurance; this is in abundance throughout all of the sessions. This harnesses a culture of trust and enables creativity to take place.

 

Having the competence to understand that not everyone uses the same communication cues and therefore to include a variety of communication styles is important. A style such as adopting a slower rhythm and pausing for longer promotes listening and benefits everyone.

 

Respect

 

Every Play On begins with the group starting all together. Everyone is welcomed and has a chance to appreciate that they are part of something bigger. The group warm up is successful as individuals are welcomed and their contributions are valued and cherished.

 

At every Play On, the last half hour is dedicated to performance. Students respect each other as musicians and get a chance to show everyone what they have been working on.

 

I love the fact that the tutor and student are equally musicians. When they perform, they perform together. The tutors learn what they have to play from the musicians in fact, they learn the piece together.

 

 

 

I would like to use the above strategies to teach biology in a school setting in order to break through the large potential for exclusion and resistance. Going to Play On has improved my confidence and familiarity with Additional Support Needs which. It has taught me that communication is different for different people and I will endeavour to explore this in my classes to come.

 

Thank you to everyone at Play On!