The National Music Teacher Mentoring Program (NMTMP) has been found to have a positive impact on teacher confidence and competence in teaching music as well as student engagement with music. This was revealed in 2022 by Professor Margaret Barrett and Dr Katie Zhukov from Monash University, who conducted an evaluation of 286 national surveys of teachers, mentors, and principals from 2017-2020.
This in-depth evaluation of the cumulative impact of the NMTMP revealed positive effects on students’ emotional, psychological, behavioural, and learning outcomes, both in music and other subjects. The mentors shared their knowledge and expertise with generalist teachers who gained confidence and competence in teaching music.
The evaluation identified three different models of music mentoring: whole-school, multi-year, and remote mentoring. The whole-school model led to a flourishing of extra-curricular music activities and an increase in school enrolment. The multi-year model resulted in teachers expanding their professional knowledge and adapting their teaching strategies to new cohorts of students. The remote and regional mentoring models provided ongoing support through online meetings and mentor videos.
WHOLE SCHOOL MODEL
Case Study 1 examines the implementation of a whole-school music mentoring program at Arncliffe West Infants, a small school in Sydney, Australia with a diverse student population. The program was piloted in 2015 with one music teacher as the mentor and the school principal and another teacher as participants. Over the next three years, more teachers were mentored, and in 2022, every teacher at the school had undergone music mentoring. The program has had a positive impact on the children, with increased participation in music activities and improved literacy and numeracy outcomes. It has also been beneficial for the teachers, with improved singing abilities, repertoire, and musical knowledge reported. The school has seen an increase in enrolments, and after-school music programs have flourished. The principal believes that the investment in the program is worth it as it promotes teacher engagement and creativity.
Whole-school approach to music mentoring: Impacts of long-term music mentoring for children and teachers
MULTI YEAR MODEL
Case Study 2 explores the implementation of a multi-year model of music mentoring at The Pines School, a large school on the outskirts of Adelaide with a diverse student population. Since 2018, the school has committed funds to provide several consecutive years of music mentoring to teachers in the lower primary area. 14 different teachers have participated in the program over the past 5 years, all of whom reported limited backgrounds in music and a lack of confidence in teaching it before the mentoring. The program includes assessment of teachers’ strengths and personal goals, demonstration of music teaching in the mentor’s classroom, and resources and a weekly schedule for debriefing and reflection. Teachers reported that they acquired many new skills and knowledge, and built their confidence in teaching music. The program has also had positive impacts on the students, including growth in musical knowledge and confidence, improved behaviour and social skills, and benefits for neurodiverse students with those who come from CALD background. The multi-year music mentoring has been reported to be a valuable experience for the teachers and beneficial for the entire school community.
Impacts of multi-year music mentoring approach for children and teachers
Case Study 3 highlights a remote music mentoring model was implemented at Paraburdoo Primary School in Western Australia in 2021. The school is located in a remote area and has a diverse student population with a high turnover rate. The Principal was new to the school and was open to new initiatives. A music specialist was invited to demonstrate music teaching to the staff, which convinced the Principal to engage the mentor to come back for two days of intensive music mentoring. The mentor met with the teachers, modelled music lessons with the students and provided resources for the teachers to develop their own capacity to explore music in their classroom. The mentor provided feedback through weekly online meetings and teachers felt comfortable contacting the mentor with any questions in-between the meetings. The remote music mentoring had a positive impact on student engagement and participation in learning in general. The school established a junior primary choir and purchased instruments. The teachers acknowledged the mentor’s expertise and the Principal felt on-site mentor visits were more effective than sending staff to Perth for professional development courses.
Case Study 4 looks closely at a regional music mentoring program which was implemented in the Riverina region of NSW over a four-year period from 2016-2019. Five different mentors worked with 17 teachers from eight schools in the region. The mentors were experienced specialist music teachers from Sydney who were engaged to mentor classroom teachers with no or limited music specialist training. The mentors spent three days meeting teachers face-to-face, assessing local resources, modelling music pedagogy and building rapport. Teachers were provided with the NMTMP resources, observed mentors teach music lessons with local students and received regular online meetings and return mentor visits. Students made substantial progress in understanding the concepts of music, and in singing. The program was discontinued after four years due to lack of funding, but there was significant interest in the program in future in some way.
The four case studies presented provide an overview of the implementation of different models of the NMTMP in various regions of Australia.
A common theme across all four case studies is the positive impact of the NMTMP on student engagement, wellbeing and participation in learning in general. Additionally, the teachers and mentors alike reported that the children enjoyed music activities, created their own compositions, viewed music positively and displayed pride in their musical successes.
Points of difference include the size and location of the schools, the duration of the programs, and the specific goals of the program. In this way it is clear that the NMTMP is deliberately flexible, and always seeks to address the strengths and specific goals for the educational jurisdiction in which we work.
Other findings of interest include the positive impacts on the children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes, improved behaviour and social skills, benefits for neurodiverse students and those from CALD backgrounds, and increased parent engagement and enrolments in the school.