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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Summer Renewal: music class reboot

I am at a place in my life right now where I am working towards renewal. For me renewal this summer means getting back to the things I love, the things that bring me joy that I had gotten out of the habit of doing or was forced to let go of. It means taking the fresh ideas I've learned through the pandemic and infusing them into my old best practices, both in my professional and my personal life. It means reclaiming my sense of purpose, and working towards a renewed passion and energy instead of just living in a constant state of triage. In yesterday's post I focused on home life, but today I'm focusing on the ways I'm working towards renewal in my teaching practices.

1. New ideas

Despite all the challenges, there have been many new lesson activities I've found, and new classroom setup, organization, and management ideas I've tried during this pandemic that I'm definitely holding onto and working into my teaching practice going forward- I wrote about the new ideas from this past year I'm excited to keep, and even expand on, in these posts:


2. Student seating arrangements

The last few years due to social distancing requirements and guidelines I've had to completely rearrange my student seating. This past year I moved closer back to how I had them pre-pandemic, but I'm eager to get (mostly) fully back to the seating arrangements I had before. Last year I had to have all of the chairs and floor spots both spread out in a 3'x3' grid, like this: 

But this year (barring a resurgence of covid protocols) I am excited to go back to chairs in rows and, especially, floor spots in a circle, like this:

The small tweaks I'm planning to make going forward are to 1) space the chairs out a little more in each row if I can- I had the chairs touching each other before and I saw the benefits of at least a little personal space during the pandemic and 2) using carpet spots to mark the circle spots instead of tape. Honestly, since I already used duct tape on the carpet pre-pandemic and I'm going back to the same spots for the rows and can put the tape on top of the existing residue (which is minimal but still there), I will probably go back to duct tape for the rows- it's just a lot more durable than the velcro strips, which I had to replace a couple of times throughout the year last year. But the spots are probably even more durable than the tape, and definitely don't leave residue at all, so I'm converted for those!

I know a lot of teachers are actually sticking with the spaced out seating arrangements because it kept students out of each other's business a little more, but I think we're ready for the messiness of learning to work more closely in community again, and it's important for the kids to develop those skills.

3. Team jobs

I was so happy to get back to having color teams, and jobs assigned to those teams, last school year, but I had to replace one of my jobs because of the aforementioned seating arrangement changes: line leader. I'm excited to get back to having the line leader job back in our classroom job rotation, because I love how it teaches students how to get on and off choral risers with the way I have them line up at the end of class in this configuration. You can read the details on how I have them line up in this post, and more importantly if you haven't tried color teams and/or team jobs for elementary music I highly recommend reading this post!

4. Movement

I know I'm not the only one excited to bring back more folk dancing/ movement without having to social distance students! There were so many lessons I had to let go of or modify, like Draw a Bucket of Water and Bickle Bockle, that I can't wait to get back to. 

5. Restorative circles

I did still make restorative conversations a part of my teaching during the pandemic, but because of the reduced class time and the lack of an actual circle to sit in, they were far less frequent, and it showed in student behavior. I'm looking forward to getting back to having restorative circles as a part of my regular class routines- you can read about how I use circles in the elementary music room in this post.

Those are the highlights of ways I'm rebooting my music teaching practices and classroom for the upcoming school year- I'm so excited to get recharged and get back to some of the things I have missed the last couple of years. What are you doing to regain your passion and purpose for the upcoming school year? I'd love to hear new ideas you're putting in place, and old ones you're bringing back, in the comments!

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