Week Two Tips

How did your first week back go? Did you try any of my New Term Tips?

I hope your first week was as good as mine. I have already had one orchestra rehearsal, one girls choir rehearsal and one Beauty & The Beast Rehearsal. About 200 parents and students turned up to my Welcome meeting and there is a real buzz around the music department. I have had Year 9 (we start in Year 9) students sign up to learn instruments and I have seen an increase in the number of girls singing – 130 turned up for Choir on Thursday. I don’t say any of this to brag, but just to encourage you. Music Education isn’t dead and I want to show the positives and support where I can.

So here are some thoughts for next week:

  1. Have you started rehearsals yet? If not then I would suggest that this week is the week. Make sure that you have something on every day that brings the department to life.
  2. Can you get students involved? I find at the start of the year the senior students are really keen to help out and lead groups. Chat to them tomorrow and see if any of your sixth form want to help run a group. Not only will it help them to develop, but it will also give your some breathing space.
  3. Do you need to put on a new group or juggle an ensemble around to cater for new instrumentalists. It might be that you even need to add a group to your list – point 2 above might help with that. Make sure that everyone feels that they have a place to belong.
  4. Send emails to all parents in school, if you are allowed to do that of course. I sent a big email today to every parent so that I know they have the timetable of extra curricular activities as well as key dates for the year. You never know when a Year 12 is going to want to start learning and get involved. I think it is great to re-tell all parents in the school just how much is going on in the music department.
  5. Don’t get overwhelmed. This is a tricky one, but it is crucial at this time of year. The summer is but a distant memory and we need to just keep going. There is a danger that we will just not stop until Christmas, and it is important to not burn out. Take advantage of tools such as the 5 minute lesson plan and also make sure that you get students working for you & for them. What I mean by this is, make sure you encourage students to really take their work seriously. Handing in essays on time and spending time working on coursework outside of lessons can make all the difference.
  6. Have you got your first concert in the diary? If not yet, then make sure you book that in this week. It is so important that everyone has something to work towards, and the weeks will soon rush away from us.
  7. Keep yourself inspired by reading blogs, listening to music and spending time reminding yourself of why you love the job. Try to not get too worried about getting everything right in the first few weeks. The key thing is to get the students on board and willing to give their all to music.
  8. Whilst you mustn’t get overwhelmed you must also start to think ahead. What new students are potential A-Level candidates, yes you heard me right, A-Level. Do you ave budding Year 7 students that you should really be pushing and nurturing so that they take GCSE and then A-Level. Think ahead, its a bit like the futures market. We need to seal our futures by ensuring students opt for music.
  9. Find out when Open Evening is and start thinking about repertoire. I always find that comes around quickly and so this week I am going to make sure I put in place music that we can rehearse for that event – I think ours is about 3 weeks away now, crazy soon!
  10. Have you thought about how you can help yourself to develop as a teacher? I mentioned some things in my blog about not doing it alone. Maybe this week you need to follow some more people on twitter, follow more blogs and join some national bodies such as the MMA & ISM. Maybe you should pop along to your music hub and see how they can support you, or maybe you need to just reach out to other teachers. Make sure that in amongst all of the nitty-gritty of the department you are thinking about your own life and career.

Week 2 is when the real work begins in many ways, and it is important to get it right.

I hope you all have a great week and I would love to hear from anyone who has tried some things for the first time.

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