The first day of school for us isn’t like a classroom teacher’s first day of school. Where those teachers are seeing their kids for the first time, we are seeing kids that we have known since kindergarten ~ for the most part ~ AND our first day is actually our first week, as we do not see ALL of our kids one day a week! So, in thinking about how to have the best first week, here are my favorite 5!
1. Reconnect with your students ~ find out what they did over the summer, what music did they listen to, did they go to any concerts, etc.… The first essential question of the Responding Strand from our NAME K-8 music standards states “How do individuals choose music to experience?”. This first class creates a perfect opportunity to start understanding the answer to this question. Not only do we want to know what music our students listen to, but why do they like it. Granted, verbalizing this concept takes time, but the first step is to ask! (and I am sure they will come up with the best answers!)
2. Have fun activities ready to go! ~ We want our kids to love music class! ….and it is important that we love what we do, as well! Choose some activities that are tried and true for you ~ or perhaps some that you have wanted to try out for awhile ~ and have a blast!
3. Have a behavior plan in place ~ This is very important. Letting kids know EXACTLY what you expect of them saves much time and energy later on! You can have the kids create the rules or you can choose and explain them. Which ever way you go, it is important that you are clear and consistent! …and to help your kids be successful immediately……..
4. “Catch” them doing something helpful (as much as possible) ~ I remember an internship in a 3rd grade in grad school. The teacher made sure to compliment her students every time they did something helpful. Her point was to set her kids up for success! They already knew how to behave …and the first class is when they will most likely be on their best behavior….so take advantage and let them know that this is what you expect, and that they are capable of delivering! ….for those kids that will act up on the first day (and you know there will be a few), have a plan ready to go. Try to find ANYTHING that they do that you can “catch” as good behavior? Also, for the tougher classes, creating an overall class point system where they earn points and have points taken away (for a greater prize) can be helpful. It encourages the tougher kids to behave so as to help the group.
5. Make music!! ~ OF COURSE!! I like to have some sort of improv activity on the docket so that kids can create at will. It sends the message that you know they are capable and that you value their input.
I hope these have been helpful! Please let us know in the comments below what you do to ensure a great first week!