Hi everyone! This is Jamie Parker. Like many of you, I’m getting ready to head back to school soon. This year, I am facing a new challenge: due to population changes, my school is re-districting. About 1/3 of my students will be new to my school. In preparation for this change, I have started to brainstorm how to integrate these new students into my music classroom. Today, I’ll share my thoughts with you.
These ideas will work for first-year teachers, teachers new to a position, or experienced teachers who are getting new students.
- Some of the students you will see this year will come with “a story” from their old school/teacher. Try to give each child a fresh start. Everyone deserves a second chance, especially children. Your students have had an entire summer to grow, and they will be entering a new environment. Greet every child positively and seek the good in each student to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Within every lesson you teach, anticipate where your students might struggle to meet your expectations. Proactively address these issues before they become problems. I anticipate saying the following statements many times this year:
- In this classroom, we connect hands.
- In a moment, you will find a partner. When finding a partner in the music classroom, you go up to someone and say, “Will you be my partner?” The answer to this question is always, “I would love to be your partner!”
- When we move in the music classroom, we are always concerned with personal space. Please be sure to never invade someone else’s personal space.
- Obviously, I won’t be able to catch every problem before it occurs, but I will avoid much frustration for both my students and myself by thinking ahead.
- Give yourself permission to review concepts longer than you would in a different situation. Review is great for your past students and absolutely necessary for your new students. Try not to assume what your students learned at their past school. Even if concepts were covered, you probably have a different teaching style than their old music teacher. Start from the beginning to ensure success.
- I believe that all children can be successful in my classroom. All children can sing, perform on instruments, read music, write music, improvise, and use music as an expressive tool. I can set my students up for success in all of these areas by:
- Creating a joyful environment: From the very beginning, music class must be joyful. Even in the first lesson of the year, spend time making beautiful music and playing fun games. When your students love coming to your class, they will be open to music literacy.
- Creating an environment where risk-taking is ok: In the wise words of my dear friend and colleague, “Mistakes are awesome!” When we make mistakes, we learn. If you truly have that attitude, it will rub off on your students. Model gracefulness when you make a mistake, and praise hard work and perseverance over correct answers from your students. When your classroom is a safe place to be, your kids can reach their fullest potential.
I hope these tips can help you with the new kids you will be getting this year. Best of luck!