As the COVID-19 pandemic becomes all too real, many of us are transitioning to teaching remotely. This offers a serious challenge to all educators, especially music teachers.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here is a list of some of the resources that I am using in my new online "classroom."
I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that this is going to be at the top of my list for allowing students to explore music technology in my classroom and at home.
I've been using the updated version of my Chrome Music Lab Task Cards to guide my students' exploration. These cards have a Bit.ly link that take students to the experiment they need to complete each of the tasks.
2. Treble Clef & Bass Clef Worksheets
These free worksheet allows students to label the lines and spaces on the treble staff, and also create their own mnemonic device for the order of the lines and spaces!
My students always make me laugh with all of the different phrases they come up with to help them remember the order of the notes on the staff.
These reading selections are great for having your students learn about some of the great composers. Each worksheet has a set of questions to help guide the reading and comprehension of the reader.
Dice Composition is an awesome way to have students create their own rhythmic compositions.
Students roll dice to decide what rhythms to create their own eight measure compositions.
This set contains three worksheets of varying levels.
Musicplay Online is an amazing online resource for music education. This site is the creation of the amazing Denise Gagné.
What's even better is that due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, students can log in for free through July. To log in, use username "snow" and password "2020."
Let’s be honest, one of the amazing things about being a music teacher is that we get to see so many students in one school day. By doing this we are able to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of students in a single day, which if you ask me is absolutely amazing.
Unfortunately, we also need to be aware of letting one class’s behavior affect us after they’ve left our classrooms. It can be so easy to let one class put you in a funk and to carry that with you when the next class comes in for their music lesson. I’ve done it for sure. It can be hard to give each class the best of ourselves when we just got done with a particularly rough class before they entered the room.
However, for the sake of our students (as well as our own sanity), we need to make a conscious effort to start fresh at the beginning of each class and not carry the stressors from earlier in the day change the way we make music with our students.
This isn’t easy. I’ll be the first one to say that I’m sometimes not able reset. I’m definitely guilty of carrying over some stress from the previous class, and it rarely goes well.
So here are a few of the ways that I regroup between classes to make sure that I am always in a good headspace for my students.
Write Down a Positive Moment
Even in the roughest of classes, there will likely be at least a couple of moments that are positive. Maybe it's a quiet student that is finally trying to sing. Or maybe one of my students who has experienced a lot of trauma was able to make it through the entire class without needing to take a break.
Even in the worst moments, there are likely gems of magic that are happening too. Not only is this a great exercise after a particularly rough class, but it’s also an incredibly healthy way to view the class as it’s happening. I’ve found that it's a lot easier to make it through a difficult class when you are looking for the positive moments.
After the students have left and the dust has settled, take some time to think about why the lesson flopped. Had the students been testing all day? Were they not in the right headspace for what you tried to do? Was it too simple or too difficult? Did you give your students the tools they needed to be successful?
Take some time to think about whether or not anything was wrong with the lesson itself, or maybe it was just a problem in timing. Look at the entire lesson and see what was successful and what could have gone better. Take a look at the sequencing and make sure that you've given your students the tools that they need in order to have been successful with the lesson.
Take a couple of deep breaths. Take a moment of mindfulness and try to relax a little bit. If, like me, you don’t have any time between classes, you can even have your students join you.
Mindfulness is something that our students need to practice as well. If you need to take a moment and breathe and listen to music at the beginning of class to reset, then have your students join you. This can also be incredibly beneficial for our students as they transition into the music classroom.
There is a great episode of the Music Teacher Coffee Talk podcast that is all about mindfulness in the music classroom. I highly recommend giving it a listen if you want to learn more about how you can implement mindfulness into your classroom.
We've all been there: you spend an hour on a lesson and are so excited to finally get to share it with your students. You prepare all of the manipulatives and resources and jump right in with your students. Then the worst happens: the lesson completely flops.
There's nothing quite as unnerving as realizing the lesson you've worked so hard on isn't being received by your students in the way you had expected. It happens, and it stinks. It can be such a nasty blow to our confidence, and we begin to second guess everything.
Unfortunately, this is all just part of the gig. Lessons fail. Sometimes lessons fail for things that have nothing to do with you. Sometimes the deck is just stacked against you. It is what you do after the lesson that really matters.
Take some time to remember why you teach, and work as hard as you can to leave one class’s behavior stay in that class and not bleed into the next!
So you finished student teaching, and are putting applications in left and right trying to find your first teaching job. As a new graduate, you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart from the other applicants. One easy way to do this is by creating a teaching portfolio.
1. You Should Already Bring a Resume Anyway
Common sense interview etiquette includes bringing an up-to-date resume for the interview panel to read and reference during the interview.
Yes, you already submitted this with your application, but having extra copies with you not only show that you are planning ahead, but it allows your name (and experiences) to once again be right in front of the people making the decisions.
So if you already need to bring a resume, why not put in a (tiny) bit more effort and bring a music teaching portfolio that has your resume in it?
2. It Allows Your Letters of Reference to be Read Again
While members of the interview panel probably won't be reading all of your recommendation letters word-for-word, they will probably at least give it a skim.
I've had people that were interviewing me tell me that being able to see these letters of recommendation (especially if they weren't privy to them before the interview) allowed them to focus-in their questions to really get to know who I was as an educator.
3. You Get to Show Off Your Lesson Plans
You know all of those lesson plans that you made in student teaching? Yeah, the ones that hardly anyone even looked at other than you? It's time to dust them off, give them a little extra polish, and show them off!
Chances are that you already have so lesson gems in your proverbial toolbox! Now is the time to share these lessons, and the thought process behind your sequence (hint: mention that you have a sequence) and planning.
4. It Gives YOU Something to Reference
Here's a pro tip: If you are able to answer a question and refer back to your portfolio, that's a plus. It shows you have really thought ahead and aren't just pulling answers out of thin air.
This can also be really helpful if you are nervous during an interview, as you know that you have answers (and evidence supporting these answers) already prepared in your portfolio.
5. You Get to Leave Something Behind
Now I'll be the first person to say that I got some disagreement from other teachers and friends that were applying for jobs when I started to do this.
You should be leaving behind a teaching portfolio after every interview. Now you don't need to (and really shouldn't) leave one behind after one of those screening interviews, but if you are face-to-face with a principal and/or an interview panel, leave a copy.
I mean, why wouldn't you? This gives the committee something to reference back to you and your experiences, all while giving the ability to read more when they have more time after you leave. I have had someone that was on the interview committee for my current job that has told me that this totally set myself apart from the others.
Don't spend a lot of money on these portfolios. I just used one of those plastic report covers from Amazon and printed my portfolio on regular paper (in color).
If you are serious about getting a music teaching job, you truly need to make sure that you shine above the rest of the applicants.
Using a music teaching portfolio is an easy and incredibly beneficial way to make sure that you are memorable and professional.
Ready to make yours? Click here to grab your FREE music teaching portfolio template!