I hope that you all are enjoying a wonderful weekend!!
This has been such an incredibly busy start to the school year. It's all I can do to "kind of" come up for air every now and then. And I mentioned that I have a student teacher right now. She's doing an AMAZING job. So well, in fact, that she soloed yesterday afternoon when I was sent home sick.
On of the challenges that all teachers face, new or seasoned, is classroom management. It's a tricky thing to master and once you think you have a handle on it, you either change schools, get new students in your classroom, there changes in student's home lives that happen, etc. and all of these things can easily rock the boat.
I've always been a firm believer in making the most of each minute and in turn, not giving students a chance to be off task. I keep the pacing quick, the transitions smooth and there's not any down time as everything needed for the lesson is out and ready and I'm thinking of the next activity as the students doing the previous one. For a general rule, we don't spend any more than 5 minutes on a game or activity (this is not a do or die rule. Some things simply take longer. You've passed out paper and pencils to first graders, haven't you? lol!) But truth be told, you want to end an activity with them wanting more ("ah! I didn't get a turn yet!" "please can't we play it again" to which I reply, "well, you'll have to come back to music again, huh?!"). You want to keep them thirsty.
This does work well. . . . . most of the time. Planning engaging activities that keeps students interested at varying ability levels is key to keeping students engaged. Pacing and sequencing are key, as are transition activities. But if you're looking at differentiation, you must also realize that this applies to teachers. A novice teacher is not going to have the skill set or experience to think of all the different activities and ways to challenge all the learners all the while teaching in a whole group setting. And let's face it, even experienced teachers have this problem time to time, right? That's why we're all constantly redefining, tweaking, self-reflecting and problem-solving our pedagogy. That's what teachers do.
Long-story short, I've been flirting with the idea of a behavior chart in my room. Not just to have one, but to help the students make the connection that behavioral expectations aren't just for their general ed. classroom, but everywhere in our school. Even the music room. You see, most of my teachers use a clip chart. With my student teacher needing a more concrete form a classroom management, I developed a chart system for us to use. I wanted it to reflect their classroom charts (green=good to go, yellow=warning, red=note home. There's also the possibility to go up the chart) but I also wanted it to reinforce musical learning. So, I made it connected to the lines off the Treble Clef Staff.
There are actually three sets available at my TpT store:
Here's some explanation, using the polka dot file:
My first graders have also been struggling with bathroom issues. You see, we have them as the last class of the day and we dismiss them. So, the bus riders were having a hard time "holding it" in music and on the bus. Since the first grade teachers wouldn't move their specials time ahead 5 minutes we had to get creative. Using the charts from their behavior chart, when the sign is on go they may use the bathroom, but only one boy and one girl can go at a time. The first class did really well with this. In the second class, we had a few "hawks" that just watched the door and raced to the sign when someone returned. Not so well. . . we'll see how it goes next week with that class.
Since I was on a roll, I thought I'd dress up my hand sign posters. There are six sets: red, orange, green, blue, purple and black & white. And I made a full page and a half-page version of all of them. Here are some samples:
And then I made another 6 sets, these without the solfa. (These come in half size, too!)
Then I have "Music Room Expectations" posters. I have had these up in my room for over a year. Mine are actually with a keyboard border and printed on multicolored paper (see this post to see them):
There are positive reinforcement cards. One in which you can write the students name and the "amazing" thing they were caught doing:
And one in which you don't write their name. These come in red, orange, green, blue, purple and keyboard border:
There are solo performance awards. I've seen this done where it's "I sang a solo in music today". I have some really introverted students and by making this "I performed by myself today" I can give those to my hesitant kiddos for whom playing the xylophone by them self is a big deal.
And here are some "________ performed a solo in music today" awards:
With the good comes the bad. Here are the notes home that I made. "I hit a few wrong notes in music today." I write in what happened and sign it then the parent and student must fill in the "what could I have done differently?" part:
Here are some samples from the Chevron file: