1 Simple Rule to Follow in the New School Year

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July 16, 2016 by morningcamequickly

1 Simple Rule to Follow

Oh my goodness, it’s one month until I have to return back to work. And by that I mean actually go into work and teach kids. Like most teachers, even though I might have the summer off, I’m still thinking about my job, the kids, and what we are going to do.

Hopefully, you took some time to recognize and celebrate your year of teaching last year. If you did, then you probably realized that you did some amazing things. Looking back, these things might not have been intentional plans, but with the way things went they turned out great. What if you decided now, before summer is over, that you were going to make this year different?

I bet you could make a list of 100 things you would like to implement or do differently. That’s enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers! It’s too much. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: teach for 30 years, not one year 30 times.

And so, I try to follow one simple rule each year.

Do one big thing new each year.

In other words, make a concentrated effort to select that one thing and focus on doing it well.

Let me give you some examples.

  • In my elementary years, I did the classic Peter and the Wolf. I was getting bored with it and I didn’t want my boredom to convey to the students. So, I decided I had to do something different. Something big. What did I do? I made puppets – 40 of them. They were just sock puppets with felt shirts, googly eyes, feathers, and fur glued on. But, oh, the looks on kids eyes and the wiggles in their seats as I pulled them out! Peter and the Wolf came alive in a new, magical way for all of us that year.
  • Another year, with a middle school advanced group, I wanted to do something big for them. Something they could invest in. This was the year for the Music Composition Competition. Students had to write an actual song, I put some chords with it, they learned them, and then voted for the best ones. Then, we performed them in concert and billed it as the World Premier Performance by student composers. Put that on the flier and in newsletters and it generates buzz!
  • Just last year with both my middle and high school groups, I instituted a Fabulous, Fun, Friday. Since I see them every other day, their class only falls on the Friday every couple of weeks. On that one day they could sit in whichever row (yes, the short people went to the back!), by their friends, and people in another voice part. Don’t you remember in choir when your BFF was an alto and you were a soprano and you NEVER got to be together in choir? Let’s face it, Friday’s can be long sometimes, but doing this one thing made a huge difference. In fact, it’s actually how I found the best blend of voices for my high school girls.

I’ve already picked out my 1 new thing for this year. Choir warm ups. I have my favorites and those are the ones I always turn to because they are comfortable and familiar. (And they work!) But, blah, blah, blah, boring to do them every single class. So I made up a 52 Choir Warm Up Deck of Cards. Yup, I’m going out on a limb and going to leave warm ups to a luck of the draw. I’m at the point in my career where I can make whatever comes up work in some part of a song we will practice. Sure, some of them are goofy, but you know what? My students deserve fresh rehearsals each class. They also deserve learning and laughter.

Remember that saying above about teaching 30 years? Well, I’ll do a bunch of other new things this year too, warms ups are just one big thing that I want to focus on. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do everything on that list of 100 things. You will wear yourself out and then you won’t be good for anything. By choosing one big thing each year, you are saying, “Hey, time to clean up my act and be fresh for the kids”. Mix that in with other new lessons, songs, and movement and you are well on your way to a great year of teaching.

What is your one big thing you are doing new this year? Share it here!

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