We are all heading back to school and I thought I would give you some quick tips for week one. As you reopen your music department you want to make sure that it is full of students, learning and life! Week one is a crucial time to engage with students, reinvent ideas and relaunch your department. So here are some quick tips for week one!
Speak in assembly
You will most likely have an assembly at the start of term. make sure that you talk in this assembly. You don’t need a powerpoint or live music, you just need you. Tell students that you are excited about the year and invite them to come and speak to you. It can be two minutes or quick fire music information. Ask your head or senior team if this is okay and it will get music front and centre in the minds of your students.
It is good to decide in week one that you are going to enjoy your job. Look for the positives and try not to give airtime to the negatives. We will all moan in week one, and we will all find things that annoy us. But try to focus on the good points. Teaching is a great job and you can thrive rather than just survive.
First Day Gathering
On the first day back, organise a “gathering” in the music room. Invite students to come along to the room and just chat to them. Find out about their summer and tell them some of your plans for the year ahead. It is a quick and easy way to get to know them.
It is important to communicate with home as soon as possible. This might be something you do on inset day, or in the first week. Let home know that music matters and that there is something for everyone. Don’t make the email too long, just information and exciting.
Week one needs to be all about opportunities. Students need a chance to try something new and find out what lies ahead. Make sure that you offer students the chance to try an instrument, join a choir or play in an ensemble. Extra curricular is so important and you must share your plans with students. There should be something for everyone, where there are no barriers.
Week one is a great chance to listen to music in lessons. Listening is such a crucial way of engaging students and teaching them. When we listen to music we open hip discussions in class. We find out what they know, like and love. In that first week back we can avoid too much writing and heavy work and replace it with lots of deliberate listening!
Rehearsals must start
I always do a rehearsal on inset day in September. At the end of a long day of talks and meetings, I love seeing the students and getting things cracking on November musical. Whatever the day, make sure that rehearsals start in week one. It is important to get students engage and introduce the new cohort to life in the department. They don’t need to be long, but they do need to happen. Aim to start as you mean to go on and put rehearsals on the day you intend to run them all year.
Plan your year
The first week back is always full on, but every week will be like that. It is important that you spend time thinking about the year ahead. What do you want to achieve and how can you build on last year. Think about your own career development and CPD and share this with colleagues. It is also a good time to request time off for things like the Music Expo or MTA Conference. Getting things in the diary early on will really help!
Start something new
Week one is a chance to start something new. This could be a new musical club or a new way of doing things. You might have read a book over rite summer that has inspired you to teach differently or think differently. Start this new thing as soon as possible. I am planning to have a renewed focus on curriculum and I am starting that with a clear sense of how I want to teach in week one. I am also going to be launching clear pathways for performers and looking at how students progress from Key Stage 3 to 5.
Be kind to yourself
The first week back is always a shock and you are allowed to find it overwhelming. But please don’t let it get on top of you and aim to be kind to yourself. It won’t be perfect, you will feel anxious and you won’t get everything done. Set some goals and make sure you plan the week. But just remind yourself that you are doing a good job! Your well being is important and you need to start as you mean to go on. Don’t say yes to everything and take time for you.
I love routine and it helps me to get back into a routine in September. Getting up early, exercise and getting to work early are all part of my daily routine. I don’t like to rush home, but I like to get things done. My aim is to have food ready to eat, water ready to drink and thinking space in my day. Whatever your routine it, think about it and stick to it. Work out what is manageable for you and then keep to that plan. When we rush through a day exhausted, we are less likely to enjoy it.
Chat & Catchup
It is really good to chat to colleagues and catch up with them after the summer. The first week back is so full of admin that that we can forget to find out how their summer was. Take time to chat and catchup with colleagues and students. There is more to life than teaching and we want to make sure we build relationships in our work.
Quick Tips for Week One
September has arrived and I am really looking forward to the year ahead. I know the challenges I will face, and I know that new ones will come along. But I want to start the year as I mean to go on. Week one is really crucial in terms of engagement. My clear message to all my students is to get involved! They need to try something new, keep going with what they started last year and be excited for the opportunities ahead. Week one needs to be positive, full of energy and exciting for you and the students.
And if you don’t get all this done and make mistakes or miss something, then don’t worry! Teaching is tough and we are all in this together. Don’t suffer in silence, and feel free to get in touch if you want to moan or seek advice. I hope these quick tips for week one will help you start off your term in style!
I wish you all the very best for the year ahead, I think it is going to be a good one! And my advice is, end week one with a drink at the local pub or a coffee with colleagues!