5 strategies for passing out “stuff” without losing your mind

5 strategies for passing out “stuff” without losing your mind

One challenge common among music teachers is the challenge of setting up classroom routines and procedures when you don’t see students very often.  Additionally, any given music class can have a variety of different teaching scenarios, like movement activities, instruments, games and even pencil and paper tasks that provide the need procedural reminders.  With that in mind, I’ve gotten in the habit of fitting my procedure of the moment to what my students present when I greet them at the door.     Here are some of the ways I get the things my students need for a given lesson into their hands as quickly as possible with minimal fuss.  “Singing Game” – Sometimes the long way is shortest.  Depending on the stability of the class and how they walk in the door, I’ve been known to pass out papers materials one at a time, calling each student up to the front to get their materials.  It may seem like that would take forever, but with little kids, it is often faster for me to do it, even one at a time than it would be to ask the students to help.  They like having my attention for a moment and I may even make a singing game out of it….. “Sarah, Sarah, come up and get your paper!” …. to some made up melody. “Assembly Line” – Every moment counts.  I don’t know about you, but I could sure use more time with my older students.  We have so much learning to do and so little time!  When I have papers (or materials) to pass out AND when I feel pressed for...
Fermata Fridays Linky Party – From Wild To Mild Revisited!

Fermata Fridays Linky Party – From Wild To Mild Revisited!

I am excited to be joining the Fermata Fridays Linky Party hosted by organizedchaos.blogspot.com I found this oldie but goody blog post that I wrote a few years ago that seemed timely as we start our new school year. I hope you enjoy reading this reminders and I hope you have an amazing new school year!   If you’ve been teaching music for long, you’ve noticed that often, it’s those first few moments of each class where you and your students establish the success or failure of your lesson.  Snagging the attention of students as they come in is essential.  I currently teach classes that last 45 minutes.  I have a few students who depending on circumstances could take a full 30-45 minutes to finally transition into music class meaning that my entire class time COULD be spent with this student or that student actively sabotaging our learning …. UNLESS, I can peak their interest just long enough to if not fully engage them, then to at least transition them from active sabotage to interested observation. Learning how to read my students at the door is critical. I’ve got lessons that I am excited to share with my students, but if they don’t come in ready to receive them, then all my “good” teaching will fall on deaf ears and closed minds……. SO! The following paragraphs contain some of my every day practices as I am trying to increase the time my students spend on task. Practice #1 – greetings! I don’t ALWAYS get this accomplished, and boy, when I don’t I pay a huge price, but my lessons ALWAYS go better when I...
Confessions of a Tired Music Teacher! – Two Unrelated Truths I’ve Unexpectedly Uncovered.

Confessions of a Tired Music Teacher! – Two Unrelated Truths I’ve Unexpectedly Uncovered.

This was a tough week.  In terms of school it is a tough time of year because the calendar is not our friend.  Both teachers and students are suffering from fatigue.  After all we have been in school for a very long time.  Yet, in Texas we have our heaviest round of standardized testing this coming week and for elementary music teachers at schools like mine that means that we are gearing up for our heaviest performance season all year….. the month of May.  When you take an already tough week and add the national tragedies we’ve experienced this week it means that at least for me, this has been one of my most challenging weeks ever.  I didn’t have any “extra” work this week, but I admit that doing an ordinary days work took a whole lot of extra ordinary effort.  I would come home and watch the news, sleep fitfully and then start over. Imagine my surprise when I also had two totally unrelated truths that I’ve discovered about how I want to be as a teacher that I wanted to take the time to capture here. True Statement 1 Choice is a powerful motivator,  I just have to learn to stack the deck in my favor without revealing my hand. In other words you can sink or sail your ship by the way you turn a phrase. Explanation: At this time of year even students who are ready and prepared for learning can become hesitant and reluctant.  At the same time, students who often need lots of extra support and discipline to stay involved are not responding any longer to the structures,...
Thank You!  – Encouraging a Culture of Appreciation Through Music

Thank You! – Encouraging a Culture of Appreciation Through Music

  If your school is anything like mine, it might sometimes feel that you are running through your school days, long on need and short on solution. In schools like ours, the needs that our students bring with them to school are daunting at best and often feel insurmountable……. But then, through the help of parents, teachers, community members, support organizations, donations, social workers, counselors, and hours of hard work  and elbow grease, physical needs and emotional needs are attended to and learning takes place.    Nothing can solve a problem like a person and when it comes to the folks who support our schools we really don’t know what we would do without them! With such awesome support, it’s always the right time to say Thank You! But it’s at this time of year when most of us become more intentional about our showing our gratitude.  So I thought I’d share a few of the reasons and ways that my students get to say “Thank You” this year! Donorschoose.org  One of our recent donorschoose.org projects! Because my classroom has benefited so greatly from donorschoose.org, my students are now accustomed to writing “Thank You” notes and now instead of explaining WHY we must say “Thank You”, I get to visit with my students about how to best express gratitude.  I LOVE having that conversation!  The more they write the “Thank You” notes, the more original and heart felt they have become. Volunteer Appreciation Lunch Nothing says “thank you” like a little food, and some great music.  I was thrilled to be able to have a group of 2nd grade...
From Wild to Mild – calming a new class every 45 minutes

From Wild to Mild – calming a new class every 45 minutes

If you’ve been teaching music for long, you’ve noticed that often, it’s those first few moments of each class where you and your students establish the success or failure of your lesson.  Snagging the attention of students as they come in is essential.  I currently teach classes that last 45 minutes.  I have a few students who depending on circumstances could take a full 30-45 minutes to finally transition into music class meaning that my entire class time COULD be spent with this student or that student actively sabotaging our learning …. UNLESS, I can peak their interest just long enough to if not fully engage them, then to at least transition them from active sabotage to interested observation. Learning how to read my students at the door is critical. I’ve got lessons that I am excited to share with my students, but if they don’t come in ready to receive them, then all my “good” teaching will fall on deaf ears and closed minds……. SO! The following paragraphs contain some of my every day practices as I am trying to increase the time my students spend on task. Practice #1 – greetings! I don’t ALWAYS get this accomplished, and boy, when I don’t I pay a huge price, but my lessons ALWAYS go better when I can greet my students at the door and get a read on how they are doing. When all is right with the world, I get a chance to exchange a word or two with the homeroom teacher, meet new students and give brief instructions to the incoming class. Practice #2 – play! ETM (Education Through Music) Through...
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