Be a big difference from every other class on the kid’s first day. Make them want to come back to your class the next day. – @richardmccready
What to do
All the participants agreed that the first day of school can either make or break your school year. It is very important to set the right tone from the minute the students walk in on the first day in order to have a successful year. @DoremiGril said “Set a positive and encouraging tone for a great learning journey. A negative tone will turn off your students immediately.” Below is a list of what the #MusEdChat participants believe you should definitely do on the first day no matter what music class you are teaching and no matter whether this is your first year or thirtieth year teaching.
- Smile-enthusiasm is the most important thing in teaching
- Establish a routine within the first ten to twenty minutes
- Discipline-it is much easier to back off on discipline than it is to increase later
- Learn your student’s names
- Get to the music right away
- Connect with the students- share your summer stories (keep it as much about music as possible)
- Involve the students- ask the students what they want to do and get from the class
- Keep the rules simple and positive
- Show that you enjoy what you are doing- your attitude will transfer to the students
- Get the students excited about making music
- Have FUN!!
What to avoid
Unfortunately not all first days are successful. There may be some negative things that occur on the first day that you can’t avoid or prevent, but there are some things within our control as teachers that will turn off our students immediately. Below is a list of some sure fire things to avoid according to the #MusEdChat participants.
- Don’t overplan- you need to be ready for the first day, but you also don’t want to overplan so that you can wait and assess where your students are at on the first day
- Don’t see the first day as just an organizational day- get straight to the music and teaching
- Don’t give second chances in regards to behavior unless you want this to become the norm
- Don’t bore the students into submission
- Don’t just talk and lecture
- Don’t give too many rules- They get rules everywhere else. If they are too busy making music you won’t have any problems.
- Don’t give a your biography and credentials- it is about the students not you
- Don’t use the term ice-breaker- it is and instant turn-off
Next the chat shifted to what are some first day strategies specifically for general music and ensembles. General music teachers usually see hundreds of students each each week so it is very important to create seating charts on day one so that you can learn names more quickly. Getting to know you activities such as name chants and songs are a great ways to start your first class. @clb1015 suggests playing music while the students come into the room. This is a great attention grabber and shows the students what the focus of the class is going to be. @DoremiGirl suggests singing good morning or a welcome to your students. She said “you will be surprised how many students will sing back to you even on the first day of class.” Since you probably had most of the students before, singing their favorite song from last year is a great way to get them engaged and also helps you assess how much they remember. Finally in regards to general music @berkshirecat suggested checking out and using sphinxkids.org. This website includes interactive games that can be a great way to engage the students from the start.
In regards to ensembles all the chat particpants agreed the number one thing to remember on day one is to play or sing!! Most of the students in ensembles are there because they want to be and they love music. They don’t want to sit and hear you lecture to them for an entire class period because they get this in all their other classes. @richardmccready suggests playing something on your own instrument or singing for the students as they walk in. This gets them immersed in music from the beginning and also shows them you are a musician which is very important, especially at the high school level. It is very important to make real music even on the first day in order to engage your students. @MrSteigerwalt suggests playing something that is accomplishable even if it is only a very short passage so that the students leave feeling successful. Finally, it is important for the students to know where they are headed and what you expect of them. A great way to do this suggested by @ultraleetj is to show old concert videos. This gives the students something to work towards the rest of the year.
Think of the Students
The chat participants ended the chat by disucssing the first day of school from the student’s perspectives. Even on the first day of school we as teachers need to be thinking about our students and keeping them our first priority. As we prepare for the first day we need to think what the students will talk about after they leave our classroom. Will they talk about the rules they learned, or the fun they had making music? It is our choice and is in our control. @shaugland said “if we just start teaching and keep our focus on the music and our students everything else will fall into place.” @7th_tone summed up the chat by saying “Don’t stress out the students with a lot of rules and regulations on day one. Show the students that music class is different from every other class. Music is a creative class so create and make music even on the first day!!”
- #MusEdChat Recap- Recruitment (11-15-10)
- #MusEdChat Recap – Chamber Ensembles (5-24-10)
- #MusEdChat Recap- Retention (11-22-10)
- #MusEdChat Recap – Relevance (3/29/2010)
- #MusEdChat Recap – Time Savers (12-6-10)