Being a teacher for the first time can be scary. It doesn't matter how much experience you have as a performer, your first year teaching is like starting over again as a rookie.

Nothing beats experience, so becoming a great teacher will come in time as you teach more, but our goal with this article is to give you some things to think about as you get started.

Below are 10 Things To Consider As A First Time Teacher. May this help you organize your thoughts and start preparing for your first day on the job.

Things To Consider As A First Time Teacher

Write down the questions below. Answer them the best you can now. And don't worry, you won't have all the answers right away, but at least start thinking about them and making your own opinions.
Then as you teach more, come back to these and update your answers. Over time this list will help you develop your personal teaching style and find success in a variety of areas as a teacher.


The following questions relate to the business side of teaching. Being a great teacher is important, but there are also responsibilities outside of educating your students that you need to know.

1. What is my position?

So you got the job, you've been hired on as a new teacher, but what role do you play within the ensemble? Here are some examples of possible roles you could play:
- General Volunteer (Just here to help anywhere needed.)

- Section Tech (Snare, Tenor, Bass, Etc)

- Section Coordinator (Drumline, Pit)

- Percussion Caption Head

- Band Director
It's important to know exactly what your position is so you know who you're responsible for, what duties you're covering, and who your main point of contact is when you have questions.
NOTE: Realize that if you're an employee of a school that is completely different from being a paid volunteer. So the following concepts will be effected by this position detail.
If you want to learn more about these positions and what their roles are within the ensemble, check out our Method Book Drumline Mindset.

2. What are my responsibilities?

Depending on your position, you will have specific things you're in charge of. Take note of what those are, write them down, and make sure you're taking care of them all season.

If you don't know what your responsibilities are, don't be afraid to ask the person in charge or other veteran teachers. 

3. What are my time commitments? And is the opportunity worth my time?

When are you required to be there? It's important to know what your schedule is so you can plan for it. And it's always important to know the constant vs the variable when it comes to your schedule. 

Maybe your constant schedule is attending rehearsal on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but then you have a variable of going in on Fridays randomly if you have extra time. 

Whatever you decide, make sure the schedule you make is worth your time. If you are going to teach somewhere that isn't paying you and they want you there 5 days a week and writing the entire warm up packet, that might not be worth it. If the gig isn't worth your time, DO NOT TAKE IT! 

So make sure you know exactly when you've promised to be there, and feel really good about your time commitments. Because nobody wants to be around a jaded teacher who feels like they're being taken advantage of.

4. How much am I getting paid? When do I receive Payment? What is my method of payment?

If you're teaching and providing value to your ensemble, you should be getting some type of compensation for your time.

The payment details will vary based on a lot of factors, but these three questions are very important for you to have answered and stated in writing before you start teaching.

1. HOW MUCH AM I GETTING PAID? (Salary, Hourly, Per Day, Etc)

2. WHEN DO I RECEIVE PAYMENT? (Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Etc)

3. WHAT IS MY METHOD OF PAYMENT? (Check, Cash, Direct Deposit, Etc)

If you're doing your job for free, it still might be worth it to determine what this position could evolve into. So considering these questions for yourself is still a good idea.

5. What paperwork do I need to file?

Every teaching position has paperwork. There are forms you need to fill out regarding payment, taxes, time commitments, volunteer status, and some schools even require that you get some type of "clearance" to be allowed on campus. (This usually includes a background check.)

Talk to whoever hired you and ask what paperwork you need to fill out to work there. Some might not require anything, but others have paperwork from the band director, band boosters, and front office of the school that all have forms you need to fill out.

This should get you started!

To learn about the Front-End responsibilities and education side of teaching, enroll to Gridbook Academy and unlock the rest of this article.

Academy members have full access to all Library articles.

This should get you started!

To learn about the Front-End responsibilities and education side of teaching, enroll to Gridbook Academy and unlock the rest of this article.

Academy members have full access to all Library articles.


The following questions relate to the educational side of teaching. Now that you've got the job and understand the back-end responsibilities, it's time to teach!

1. Have I successfully taught anyone before? And how can that relate to my new position?

During your time as a performer you were probably already teaching others simply by helping them learn. Maybe you spent time time showing newbies how to do things for the first time, or maybe you were the main communicator of your group letting people know how to prepare for rehearsals. Chances are you have been teaching in some way along your journey as a student.

Even though you weren't an official "teacher", the same process applies. Use the teaching experience you developed from your time as a performer to help you now as a teacher. Your style of teaching will evolve over time, but to start, just help others learn using the experience you already have.

2. What are my expectations?

This is such a huge part of being a great teacher. You have to know what your expectations are and be great at keeping those relevant in your narrative through the season. 

Your expectations could vary based on the ensemble you're in front of. If you're working at a top level world champion ensemble, your expectations might be centered around EXCELLENCE, but when you're teaching a non-competitive band that focuses on supporting the athletics department, your expectations might be more about having a fun experience. 

Either way, you should write these expectations down and create a packet of information you and your students will abide by through the season. This can simply be a printed page with some bullet points, or a fully developed percussion manual.

If you are a new teacher and want help creating a Percussion Manual for your school, let's chat! We help teachers develop their programs and create learning materials for their students. Join Gridbook Academy and let's get started!

3. Am I an effective communicator? And how can I get better at it?

Being a great teacher means being a great communicator. If you're wondering if you will be a good teacher, it all comes down to your ability to communicate.

Your students should know what they need to do and how to do it. So use your current experience to help guide the following:

1. Your student's schedule.

2. How your students practice at home.

3. The rehearsal e
tiquette your students use with the group.

4. The technique you want your students to use.

5. The responsibilities your students have outside of the performance. 

Make your own categories of information your students should know. Then make sure you're reinforcing them weekly.

4. What is my teaching process?

How do you want to teach? Do you want to be someone who talks a lot and explains things verbally with detailed explanations? Do you want to teach by example and physically demonstrate everything you're asking your students to do? Maybe you want to use a mixture of teaching methods?

Your teaching process will evolve over time, but as a beginning teacher it's nice knowing your intended style of teaching so you can build consistency.

One of the teaching methods we use is the "Listen And React" process. We show up to rehearsal, listen to what is going on, then react to that in the movement.

An example of this would be watching someone drum with improper technique causing a bad sound. You listen and assess what they're doing, then provide a clear explanation to that person on how to create a better sound. Let them know what they're doing incorrectly and provide a solution. As they make adjustments, reinforce the information until they are performing the right way.

Start thinking about the ways you want to teach, then experiment with that style through the season.

5. How do I keep my students engaged?

As you teach it's important to teach concepts by telling your students what to do, but you have to also make sure they truly understand what you're saying. Many students who don't understand what's going on will stay quiet so they don't get embarrassed in front of their peers. This can cause issues in the future. So we recommend asking questions in a way that confirms understanding.


1. "Does everyone understand?"

2. "Are there any questions before we move on?"

3. "Who can tell me why we're doing this?"

4. "Who can demonstrate this concept?"

It puts your students on the spot, and you will discover who understands and who doesn't. 

Then spend extra time working with the slower learners so everyone stays on the same page.


The season will begin, and the schedule will get chaotic. But you can minimize this chaos and keep the learning environment stress free by revisiting these questions often.

As you learn more and develop more as an educator, make adjustments to your answers and keep updating your process and expectations.

And keep a journal or document where these answers live. You won't be able to remember everything! But being able to read and review your principles of educating will allow you to stay focused and keep track of your growth over time.

This is something we do now that we wish we did in our first few years of teaching.


As a member of Gridbook Academy you always have someone to provide an outside opinion. Send us a DM, schedule an Office Hours meeting, or post your progress in the community and we'll keep the conversation going with helpful tips along the way.

Have fun and remember you're always a student, even when you're the teacher!
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