January will be upon us soon and I wonder if you have starting thinking about next year?
“Oh come on James, I have barely thought about December!”
I know I know, I am annoying with all this planning chat. But I am just keen to share some thoughts on January before November is done and before December swamps us!
Time to Catch up
For me, January really is a time to catch up, slow down and focus.
- I like to catch up on all my marking and assessments. Unless you are a super human, it is hard to do that in December.
- It is also nice to catch up with students and chat to them about the year ahead.
- Slowing down the pace of the week is also lovely in January. Rehearsals are likely to be full on in December, so January is a chance to cut back a little bit.
- The new year is a great time to focus on the year ahead and the key priorities for the department and the students
In December we tend to think a great deal about choirs, orchestras, concerts and events. Whilst all of that is great for the students, it is more of a wider angle focus on the music department.
In January you might like to focus on your GCSE and A-Level students on a one-to-one basis. This might be hard if you have large numbers, but it is good to arrange individual meetings with students right at the start of the year. I particularly like to do this with A-Level Students so we can chat through the plans in the lead up to May 15.
In this student meeting I talk about a number of things:
- Have you got your pieces sorted for your performances/recital?
- How is your composition coming along?
- What are you going to focus on in light of your mock exams?
- Do you need any in particular from me?
- What are your music new years resolutions?
The new year is also a good time to capture the parents and have meeting with them to talk about supporting GCSE & A-Level students. This is something i started last year and I have a blog you can read all about working with parents in partnership. This meeting was really valuable and it was a nice way to start the year.
At this time of year it is important to re-group and think about you. What are your teacher priorities for the year ahead? Do you need to put anything in place for the new year? Are changes needed and what new habits do you want to form? New Years resolutions can be a fad and unhelpful, but sometimes it is good to think about what kind of teacher you want to be in the year ahead.
Ideas for New Year
I thought I would share with you some ideas that you might like to try in January. These are things I have done before and I think they work quite well. January will be quieter than December, so it is a good idea to try something new and hopefully these ideas will help
- Recruitment campaign – students will have seen music happening in school a great deal in December. Why not arrange with your music hub or peripatetic teachers to come in during January and run a recruitment drive for instruments and singing.
- Having played lots of carols and pieces, January is a good time to focus on sound, skills and techniques in rehearsals. Try working on these things with your bands as a kind of new years resolution. This can include a focus on practise and improvement for the new year.
- Start a new ensemble for a new year. This might be something you have never done before or something you do as a one off. Maybe get someone in to lead a workshop on samba drumming, 4-part singing or rock bands. Just try something new and your students might really enjoy it.
- Run a competition for the first half term that gets students composing a song or a piece of music. They might like the chance to do some individual creative work after the Christmas season of massed choirs & orchestras.
- Book in a trip to the theatre to see one of the set works or just something to inspire the students. January is always a nice time to run trip as there are often more free evenings.
Just a few ideas and I am sure you will come up with a lot more.
Happy New Year
The most important thing for January is that you plan time to make it a happy month. Don’t try and take on too much and plan lots of time to get away from work at the end of the day. Christmas is always full on, brilliant, but full. So plan to make January a month for you and yours.
But it doesn’t hurt to also try some new things, set the tone for the year and reflect on all the things you want to achieve.
Happy New Year, see you soon for a look at February!