10 Vital Things to do in Preparation for School
Preparation for School- Successful classroom management stems from planning and preparation and then repeating the process. No matter what the instructional material, event or endeavor, planning is necessary. Music educators run camps, rehearsals, and drills that are fully interactive with their students. The effective music educator plans and then plans some more.
There is no negative consequence for over planning. The effective music educator shares his or her plan, with their students and staff so that they understand what their role is in the plan and have the insight on how to execute it. As a result, students will come to understand the importance they have as a part of the overall program.
Preparation for School
Many competitive music directors understand that the overall planning of a camp or special set of performances takes the bulk of the time in comparison to the actual event. Poor preparation results in the execution of poor fundamentals demonstrated in an event or learning cycle. As a result, instruction and practice have to be redone. Be sure to invest the time needed to prepare before the school year begins so that your students are following procedures as they begin their new year.
It is necessary that your preparation includes supporting elements to enhance the growth and consistency of your classroom culture. The consistency of this culture is necessary to keep everyone on the same page.
Time to Prepare
The success of your music program will reflect the effort in preparation practices you engage in prior to school starting. Most of us have a long list of items that we need to do in our heads. The anxiety and stress of the approaching school year can be lessened through these strong preparatory efforts. However, a lack of preparation will result in:
- Wasted time in each school day
- Frustration and fatigue will plague the teacher in the first weeks
- A “what to teach” fog results in the first few days of school
- Students become confused and uncertain
It is important to understand that the first day of school is incredibly important for creating a positive classroom mold. It is best that you don’t wing it and hope for the best. Rather take the time to plan for the best.
What Needs to be Ready for the Start of School?
Teachers can gauge how well they will be prepared for the school year based on the first day. So what needs to be prepared?
#1 Management Plan
The classroom management plan is a series of classroom procedures. These procedures help make the class run smoothly. These procedures need to become routines. In order for this to be accomplished these procedures need to be taught, practiced and reinforced. The following are but a few procedures that should be taught:
- How to enter the music classroom
- What to do when the bell rings
- How to set-up your instrument and stand
- What to do when you need to use the bathroom
- What to do when your pencil breaks
- How to collect or distribute music
- What to do when you finish your work early
- How to set-up or put away technology
- What to do with personal technology
- Where to submit practice logs
- Where to find work, when you don’t have your instrument
- How to exit the classroom
It is important that before school starts that you come up with a way to share your plan and set of procedures.
#2 Classroom Discipline Plan
Proactively creating and consistently using your classroom management procedures will minimize and prevent behavioral issues. A solid discipline plan includes:
- Classroom rules for students to follow
- These should be easy to remember. Short, simple and posted on the wall.
- Rewards that students can work toward
- Penalties for breaking music classroom rules
Each student should be held accountable for having their own copy of the discipline plan so they can refer to it when needed.
#3 Positive Expectations from All Students
Those music educators that establish high expectations and provide for support for those expectations, will achieve high results. Those teachers who expect little from their students and provide little to no support will receive little effort from his or her students and will become frustrated in the process. It is also important for students to know what they can expect from you, as the teacher. These can include:
- Provide quality instruction
- Show respect
- Create a positive learning environment
- Provide additional help
- Grade fairly based on learning expectations
- Enforce fairness
- Open door policy
Educators need to also identify what students expect of them by the teacher. These could include:
- Be on time for class
- Come to Class ready to Learn
- Keep a positive attitude
- Bring all materials (music, pencil, paper, instrument, instrument accessories, etc.)
- Complete all assignments on time
- Pay attention
- Follow all classroom procedures
- Follow posted rules
- Give 110% Each Day!
These expectations become part of the student’s way of living that will follow them throughout the rest of their lives.
#4 Welcome Students to Class
It is important that new students feel welcomed to your class. If possible, send a letter or email, to each student and their parent before school starts to let them know that preparations have been made for a successful school year and that you are excited to have them in class. In addition, that letter should detail what students should expect to learn during the first week of school. Additional material that you may want to include in the letter:
- Overview of the school year
- Your planning periods and full day schedule
- Your contact information
- School’s contact information
- music class web address
- Date of the school’s Open House
Once you in the classroom (on the first day of school):
- Have your name written on the board, subject, and room number
- Provide a warm welcome at the door as students enter your classroom
- Check student schedules for accuracy
- Introduce yourself and take roll to double check to make sure everyone is in the right place
#5 First Day Script
Preparing what to do and what to say on the first day of school is incredibly important for you and your students. Scripting out what to say does not have to be spoken word per word however it should address:
- Your name
- How you expect to be addressed
- Your experience as a professional educator
- Key points on how you have prepared for the upcoming year
- How the Class is organized
- Identify how the classroom procedures will enable students to be successful
As a result of having a scripted checklist, you can be sure that the salient information is received by the students.
#6 First Day Packet
Effective teachers should always plan on providing an information packet to his or her students on the first day of school. Items included in this packet should be:
- Intro cover letter
- The program rules and consequences
- A supply list
- Uniform information
- Homework and practice policy
- Acknowledgment of packet policies that is signed and retained for future reference
In this age, I would also provide a link to an online, electronic version of this packet to avoid excessive paper consumption.
#7 Prepare Lesson Plans
Lesson plans in the first two weeks of school are critical to ensuring a sound foundation has been set for the rest of the school year. Introducing, teaching, rehearsing and masting procedures are worth the time they take out of content presentation time. In fact, you will more than likely gain instructional time to teach content-based concepts if the procedural foundation is set. I am not saying you shouldn’t teach content in the first two weeks, however, these first days of school are precious moments that must include:
- Introducing and understanding the management plan
- Teaching, practicing and mastering the classroom procedures
- Foundational content-based lessons
#8 Prepare an Agenda
The agenda is the plan that tells the students what will be happening during the class. This is in outline form on the board and in the same place every day. The agenda is one component that reinforces a consistent classroom environment. This should include the lesson objective or lesson essential question, schedule, and an opening assignment. Many teachers also include important announcements and reminders.
#9 Prepare an Opening Assignment
Preparation for School-It would be wise to get your students working on an opening assignment while you take roll and address individual student needs. The assignment should be posted on the dry erase board or handed to the students as they enter the classroom. This assignment should engage the students and communicate:
- The teacher is well prepared for class
- Work begins immediately as students enter the classroom
- The expectation that bell work will continue for the rest of the year
- Every occasion is a learning opportunity
#10 Organize the Classroom
Organized classrooms support the learning process for students in the schools. To create an organized learning environment be sure to:
- Arrange the chairs and stands so that all students can clearly see you
- There should be plenty of walk room for students to enter and exit the classroom
- Assign seats on the first day of school
- Prepare colorful bulletin boards that:
- display student work
- display curriculum, themes, and standards
- Post essential information for the class
- Bell Schedules
- Emergency Information
- Fire, Tornado and Earthquake information
By creating a detailed plan, prior to the start of school, students will know what to expect and will have the tools to meet those expectations. Preparation and planning cannot be overstated for those teachers who expect to be effective. The ability to learn from other music educator’s mistakes and successes is a gift that every teacher should be willing to receive. Plan to prepare, plan to learn and plan for a successful year as a music educator.
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