March is now a month away and I am continuing my series that looks at each month of the year. The great news is that we have a February half term to look forward to before March and then a nice break at the end. But what else might you consider for the month? If you haven’t read any previous blogs in this series then you might like to take a look at January & February.
March is very much at the month of deadlines for me as I like to get work in before Easter. I am fully aware that some of it won’t be absolutely done, but it is so crucial to give students a deadline before the Easter break. March is a month where I will carry out the most recordings for GCSE & A-Level and I will hold my A-Level Recitals. It will also be a month for extra composition sessions after school.
My advice, plan in the extra sessions and make sure that students and parents are aware of exactly what is going on. You want to be clear that you are offering extra time so that no one can complain. I guess the question is, how much extra should we put in?
This is a tough question to answer as it depends on our situation and out students. We have to get the work/life balance right, but we also want to give our students support. What I would suggest is that you consider what you can offer first. If you ask students then they will want you to offer every hour of every day. So flip that around and let them know when you will be able to support them. Support can simply be allowing them to compose after school with you present to comply with controlled assessment guidelines.
March can feel like a constant slog to get work out of students. You start to doubt yourself and your planning. You get a bit overwhelmed with paperwork, forms, recordings and lessons. Don’t let your self get overwhelmed. You are doing a good job and you need to work out some coping mechanisms – see my previous blog on Coping. We are all in this together and so maybe contact colleagues in local schools for support. If you are on your own then find someone who might be able to moderate work with you or offer advice. I am always happy where I can to give advice to fellow music teachers.
March Music Expo
This year the Music & Drama Education Expo is happening in March. If you have not been to the expo before then please do book your free ticket and go along. It is a useful event for teachers and there is a lot to see and learn. My advice would be to ask for the time off in advance and use the free CPD angle! I am going and also presenting on the second day – get in touch and we can meet for a coffee – firstname.lastname@example.org. See another previous blog for my thoughts on the expo.
I have a big concert every term and I love rounding off the term with a concert – which usually ends up being at the very end of March. Concerts don’t need to be a stress and you can make them as big or small as you like. They don’t need to be in the evening, they could be straight after school or early evening. But a concert in March is a great way to end the term and give students a goal. Extra Curricular is more likely to survive if there is an event to aim for. Getting the Extra right is a previous blog that might be helpful for you.
Try Something New
Now, strictly speaking this is something you can do at any time. But at this time of year I like to try things that are new. This is often linked to events like the Music Expo where you get new ideas. Whilst we need to stick clearly to our schemes of work and our curriculum plans, we can try fresh approaches & ideas in lessons.
It might be that you try out some new software, or a new lesson that includes more singing. You might like to check out some of the great online platforms out there and use them in a lesson. I love Incredibox & Learning Live with Ableton. Try new ideas, especially in Key Stage 3 where students are likely to be considering music GCSE.
I hope that March is a great month for you and that some of these thoughts have been helpful. Don’t do it alone, don’t get overwhelmed and remember your students will thank you one day!