3 things I LOVE about having a student teacher

3 things I LOVE about having a student teacher

It is so refreshing to have the chance to reflect about the WHY of what we do in music class! I truly enjoy talking “shop”.  Getting the chance to talk about what wonderful things go on in music  was the reason why I started blogging.  Having to slow down long enough to explain something is a REALLY good way to prune away extra stuff that is unnecessary and get to the heart of every instructional decision.  My student teacher asks good questions and in order to make sure that she is well equipped, I’ve got to give her really good answers…. I like the challenge because it makes me think and as a result, I’ve learned a lot!   2.  There are so many things that she can do better than me. Let’s face it…. It’s been 17 years since my last piano class and 18 years since my last theory class.  While I’ve continued to grow and learn and have improved in many ways,  after all that time in Kinder-5th grade there are some things I’ve simply forgotten.  It’s true that we loose what we don’t use!  It’s fantastic to have a chance to talk “music speak” with someone who actually remembers what a Neapolitan chord is……   3.   Another pair of hands and an extra voice is super nice. When I am teaching, she is an intuitive helper who is ready to step in and lend a hand, or reteach a learner in need of additional support.  Now that she is at the point in her student teaching when our roles are switched and she is the lead teacher,...
Tools for easily posting your TEKS and objectives! – FREE Download!

Tools for easily posting your TEKS and objectives! – FREE Download!

  I’m excited to say that this year I get to host a student teacher in my classroom and as I have prepared to work with her over the summer I have spent some time reflecting upon the things that I want to do better in my classroom. One of the many things that I would like to improve about my own practice of teaching is the habit of posting my objectives well…. I already have the habit of posting my activities and songs so that I can keep track of my lessons while I am setting up for the next class, but I can do better about being transparent and sharing my thinking about WHY I we are doing a particular song or activity. I also want to do a better job of helping my students ground their learning so that they improve in their recall of what they learned. There are LOTS of steps that help improve the outcome of those goals, but truly in many cases, the one way that I can ensure that I develop a good habit is by making it EASY!  The easier the better, even if that means that initially there is more work involved. With that in mind I have created “I can” statements using the updated music TEKS.  I tried to use a plain, clear font that would be easy to read.  I also wanted the cards to be a reasonable size, understanding that if I am going to get in the habit of using them, I have to make them a size that is small enough that I can post...
Teaching Music 101 – Top 10 ways to sound like you want to sing with children

Teaching Music 101 – Top 10 ways to sound like you want to sing with children

One of my favorite singers of all time is Ella Fitzgerald.  I love listening to her sing.  I love everything that she sings.  I love hearing recordings of her when she was young.  I love hearing recordings of her when she was old because every time she sang she shared her emotions with everyone who heard her. She was even quoted as saying,  “I sing like I feel.”  – Ella Fitzgerald. (video of Ella at the end of the post! ) As someone who enjoys singing very much, I love this quote and can hear it expressed in every note of her performances. In fact as a performer I hope that my singing does communicate my emotions clearly. But then I laugh because I’m only a “singer” for a very small percentage of my real life. My reality is the classroom and as someone who teaches children to sing every day I would like to give a new quote, but instead of from Ella, it will be from me.  Here it is!  “I sing like I should feel until I do!”  – Bonnie McSpadden In truth I feel like one of the most important skills a young music teacher should work to cultivate is the art of convincing  children that you really do want to sing that same song 7 more times for the 6th straight day in a row! You see, the more that fatigue sets in, the more I have a situation with a student or parent going on via email waiting for me at my desk, the more that l feel pressured to meet deadlines, or if circumstances in my personal life are weighing on me then...
Teaching Music 101 – Classroom Management Tips for New Music Teachers

Teaching Music 101 – Classroom Management Tips for New Music Teachers

  This is a post from a few years ago and seemed timely as we approach the new school year. This post is intended for anyone who is a new teacher, but especially music teachers because I am a music teacher, so all of my advice comes from that perspective. Let me first tell you that although I have opinions I am no expert.  Like all educators, teaching is something I practice.  Now that I’m about to begin my 15th year of teaching I get it right more often that I used to but each victory that I’ve had in teaching has been a result a mound of personal reflection, refinement in my practice and most especially trial and error. Confession Time So there I was in my second week of teaching EVER.   Admittedly a little high from the glow of fake-out, friendly, zombie-perfect behavior that greeted me the entire first week of school. My first graders were lined up and silent under the scrutiny of their veteran teacher and looking at me with hopeful faces.  I smiled enthusiastically and said, “Come on in and make a sit down circle”.  Then without a worry I held open the door Imagine my SHOCK when they ran right past and NO ONE, not one student sat down in a sit down circle!   In fact, as each student hit the door they sort of scattered to the four winds.  At this point so early in the year, none of them were being particularly naughty, they were just placed in an intriguing environment and they wanted to explore.  For some that meant, crawling under all the chairs I had lined up.  For others that meant walking...
Teaching Music 101 – Instructional Road Maps – Part 2

Teaching Music 101 – Instructional Road Maps – Part 2

   1. Synchronize your calendar with your instructional rotation. Your schedule will vary significantly depending on how often you see your students.  In my 16 years of teaching I have taught within a variety of rotations including a 3 day rotation, a 4 day rotation, a 6 day rotation.  I currently teach with a 4 day rotation.   The first thing I do when I get my school calendar is write little numbers 1-4 in the corner of each school day.  Then I can figure out how many rotations or lessons I will have to plan each semester.   When you take this first step, watch out for school holidays, teacher in-service and testing days.  Some schools choose to cancel music class on testing days, others don’t. There are other special days when music is canceled for everyone. Your team leader or your principal can let you know if you must skip a class on those days or if the schedule just picks up where you left off.  For example, my school doesn’t have music on field day.  So if “day 2” was supposed to come to music on Field Day, then they just come to music the day after instead.   I typically teach 15-16 rotations in the fall and 16-17 rotations in the spring and have included a little square in the corner of each day so that I can jot down who i teach on a given day.  The chart that I use is in my planner.  I printed it and had it spiral bound.  When I look at my kindergarten row I can see 4 rotations...
Teaching Music 101 – Instructional Road Mapping – Part 1

Teaching Music 101 – Instructional Road Mapping – Part 1

Congratulations! You’ve got your first job as a music teacher at an elementary school!  Now what? It’s July, so that means that in about two breathes you will be standing in front of your very first set of students.  Your first year of teaching will be a wild and exciting ride.  However, if you choose to take the time to road map, I can’t guarantee that you will end up exactly where you plan, but at least you will have a chosen destination. What is an instructional road map? A road map is a tool that lots of teachers use to keep the on track so that when they sit down to write lesson plans they don’t forget where they are in the curriculum. A road map is a document  you will look at periodically and adjust often.  Think of it as a sort of instructional grocery list of things that you want to remember to include in your time with students. A road map is not a lesson plan.    Besides the fact that road maps aren’t very detailed, many school district have an online lesson plan tool where teachers are expected to write and share their lesson plans. Lesson plans  and grade books are  legal documents that are kept by your district and can be audited for up to 5 years.   Road maps work as a sort of draft for your lesson plans. A road map is not set in concrete.  Instructional road maps, particularly in music are heavily influenced by existing calendars, performance schedules that you develop with your principal, and unforeseen changes like fire drills...
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