If you are like me then you are probably already planning ahead to next year. It will soon be July and then September will come around far too quickly.
For us music teachers there is more to planning than just schemes of work. We have to think about so many different things and this blog is hopefully going to give you some ideas on what to think about ahead of next year. You can’t plan for everything, but you can certainly look at your diary and start to think about when things are going to happen. Here are some thoughts on how to approach the year ahead and what things to maybe think about if you haven’t already:
1. Let’s start with the curriculum because lets face it that is why we are here. Have you thought about what you are doing with Key Stage 3/4/5?
Here are some ways of reviewing Key Stage 3:
a) What worked well that will definitely happen again next year?
b) What did we do last year that we shouldn’t have done?
c) What did we not do last year that we should have done?
d) What should we do differently next year in light of new ideas?
We have recently done a similar analysis in my school and thanks to my SLT for providing those questions as a prompt. It is really good to review what we teach and not just throw out all of the ideas, but just work out what needs to change.
2. Extra-Curricular programme – have you started to think about what choirs & ensembles will run next year? It is good to think about this and also work out staffing for these groups. It might be that you consider allowing a student to run a group, if so, meet with them before the summer so they feel part of the planning.
3. Concerts – have you worked out when you are going to have a concert. For me I like to try and have 3-4 concerts per term that are all slightly different:
a) Large scale concert with big production values & inclusive of all groups and ensembles – a real show piece event for the schools that i work with
b) A smaller scale concert, maybe for GCSE students. No massive publicity and in a smaller venue at school. Short and useful to them as music students.
c) A Musical Theatre/Vocal evening that focuses on singing. Again this can be in a smaller venue and it could be a concert just for woodwind or brass. I like to do musical theatre nights as they are popular amongst our students.
d) Something with local schools so that we get younger students excited. I work across a trust so I can bring together students from Windsor Learning Partnership.
4. Fundraising – Have you thought about when you might hold a quiz night or another type of fundraiser. I do a quiz every January and that has become an annual highlight and works really well as a fun evening and a way of raising money for music. Pencil one in at a time of year when there is slightly less going on.
5. Trips – Have you thought about when you might take a theatre trip or even a tour. Have a look at the calendar and work out when you might have more evenings free – I find that the slot between New Year and February Half Term can work well as it is somethings a little bit quieter.
6. Repertoire – One thing I like to do is think ahead and work out what music I am going to get for the year ahead. It is good to think about this and get it all ordered before the summer. It is important for ensembles to return in September with new music ready to go. I use various sites and won’t go into that now, but think ahead and then it saves you the panic in September
7. It is good to get resources before September. Printing out the worksheets that you know you are going to use, or making them available online, is a good way to get ahead. But think about anything that you might need to order. Also consider if you need the same worksheet or if you even need exercise books. Work out what is going to work well for you.
8. In your planning it is a good idea to chat to students, maybe those that are leaving. Ask them what they would change & keep. Getting advice from senior students can be really helpful and informative, you just have to pick the right students. I love to hear what they have loved the most about the year.
9. Get in touch with local organisations that you work with throughout the year, especially the ones who might sponsor you, and ask them if they have dates for the year ahead. This way, you know you are going to get some funding in or you can plan with students. It is good to get dates out to students at the start of the year. I do a “Welcome Back” meeting in September and that works well for both new students to the school and current members of the department.
10. Plan time to not be doing stuff. It is easy to fill a diary, but make sure that you allow time for you to rest and re-group. There is no point having concerts every week and not having time to down-tools and prepare for the next season. Work out when the hot-spots are and then allow time either side of them. We are often “busy”, but I do hate that word so much. If we prepare and we know what we are doing then “busy” becomes “living” and we can cope much better- trust me!
So there are 10 things that might get you I thinking. For some of you they will be obvious and you will already be on top of things. But if you are new to teaching or have just taken over a department, it is good to have some points to follow. If you have any questions then do get in touch and I will be happy to give more information!
All the best for the planning and the year ahead!