It is that time of year again. It is New Year’s Eve and we are about to ring in 2013 and most of us will be going back to our classrooms Wednesday or Thursday of this week. As I sit here this morning, reading about a variety of celebrities’ New Year’s resolutions (yes, from time to time, I will read about what the celebrities are doing) from taming a lion (?!?) to tweeting less, I stop to ponder my New Year’s resolutions.
I have made them in the past and I have stuck to some (I now exercise regularly and have achieved a 10 minute mile when I run) and I have not stuck to some (I can still only play four chords on the guitar, but this does mean that I can play most children’s songs). However, I make them to remind myself that there are always goals that I can try to achieve.
When it comes to my classroom, I make resolutions there too. I got this idea from reading Jim Frankel’s blog when he was teaching in the middle school classroom. His resolutions always inspired me to figure out what I could attempt to do better in my own classroom. Therefore, this blog post contains my list of 2013 New Year’s resolutions for my elementary general music classroom:
- Communicate with parents more, especially with positive stories. I am now a parent of a pre-schooler and she had a rough transition at the beginning of the school year. My heart would sink when I would get a call or a note that described the difficult day she had. However, she worked through it and I now receive notes that are very positive. As a parent, those positive notes mean the world to me. I am going to make more effort to send those positive notes, most likely in the form of an email, to various parents so they know that their children are doing well in my classroom and in hopes that it will bring smiles to their faces.
- Find a variety of ways to assess my young students. I write progress reports three times a year. I have a rubric which I assess my students for those progress reports and most of the time, I assess through student observation. However, technology has made assessment with young students so much easier to achieve. Many times, I use garageband on the ipads or the laptops to assess their singing skills. I now utilize several apps on the ipad to assess their note reading skills, their rhythm reading skills, and more. I am utilizing composition to assess numerous skills and with so many friendly ways for young students to compose (ipad apps that encourage students to draw music or using noteflight and/or finale notepad with my second and third graders to compose short melodies), my students are creating music in great ways while I am also assessing them on basic musical concepts.
- Stay organized. When over 200 students come through my classroom once to twice a week, I need to stay organized and I need to keep my classroom clean.
- When I bring my work home, I will not begin it until my girls are in bed. I have stuck to this one in the past and I want to continue with it. Any work can wait until my little ones are in bed and fast asleep.
- Always remember to enjoy my students, the music we make and create, and everything else about my job because teaching elementary general music/early childhood music is one of the best jobs in the world.
What are your New Year’s resolutions when it comes to your classroom?
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com