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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Top 5 Strategies to Support Individual Students

In my last post I shared my top 5 strategies for fostering positive classroom climate- in other words, how to deal with classes as a whole. In today's post I want to talk about my top 5 strategies for dealing with each student individually, and doing everything I can to allow each student to thrive in my classroom. That's no small task when we're talking about hundreds of students at a time! But it is so important- in fact it's at the very core of why we do what we do. 

1. Reflecting, Respecting, and Responding to Identities and Needs

The most critical strategy for allowing each individual student to thrive in our classrooms is our ongoing work towards equity. If we don't truly understand who are students are and actively work against systems of oppression, we will never have a classroom where all students can thrive, no matter how much we want them to! Click on the picture above to read more about specific strategies and resources for engaging in this process.

2. Opportunities to Listen and Be Heard

With as many students as we have in music, it's so important to have systems and procedures in place that hold us accountable to giving every student opportunities to listen and to be heard. Circles, in all the forms they can take in the music room, are one of the best ways to do that.

3. Regular Positive Reinforcement

One of the best things I've ever done as a teacher is happy notes. I give one note, with one specific compliment written on it, to one student every class period. This is another way I keep myself accountable for making sure I am giving positive reinforcement to every student- the key things to make this work are to 1) keep track and make sure every student has a turn, and 2) make it clear that this is NOT a ranking of the "best" student of the day, but an opportunity for each person to get a direct compliment. 

4. Names

It seems to simple and obvious but the importance of learning every student's name, and learning to say them correctly, can't be overstated. But I know it can be incredibly difficult when you have hundreds of students! Here are some of my favorite ways to learn them all.

5. Specific Behavior Supports

Some individual students will struggle more than others with regulating their behavior and emotions. For those students there will often be a plan in place to help support their needs in their homeroom class, but either it's never communicated to us as music teachers or it doesn't translate well to our setting. Here are some strategies I've found helpful for supporting individual student needs.

Those are my top 5 strategies for supporting each student as an individual to give them the opportunity to thrive in my music class. Really, when it comes down to it, nothing is more important to me as a teacher than this. And yet it is one of the hardest things to do! I hope something in this list helps you connect more deeply, respond more effectively, and build on each student's success in your classes this year.

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