As this crazy year comes to an end and the race for making next year work a success has begun, I have started to look at articles out there that can help! I thought that before I can actually sit down and plan lessons, I needed some suggestions on how to plan. How can we meet our standards in a classroom where kids can’t sing and need to stay 6 feet apart? Read below for some initial ideas!

  1. Purposeful Planning

It sounds like there is a decent possibility that we will be teaching both online and in person. Thinking about lessons that are better suited for one or the other will help organize our curriculum so that we cover everything!

Activities like singing and recorder playing will be best for your online time, as they are currently deemed unsafe in the classroom. Activities like clapping and rhythm work are best for the classroom.

  • Better Use Of technology

New platforms are being created and tweaked every day to meet our new need for teaching online. Google classroom and Zoom are common, but I know there are others out there! As Mike Flynn said in his article “Transitioning to Online Learning! Pro Tips on What You Need to Know” ~ How do you want to teach and what is out there to help you do that?

When you do find the platform that meets your needs, utilize the features it offers. (For example, Zoom has a mute option. When you are singing online, mute all but one for a quick assessment).

  • Instrument Making

In order to cut down on passing germs and the need to clean every instrument thoroughly after each class, it makes sense to have kids make their own instruments. Egg shakers and drum making are simple enough, as well as having kids use makeshift instruments from home (like wooden spoons for rhythm sticks).

  • Create Routines

We are used to doing this for our classes, but now that we might be teaching online, at least part of the time, it makes sense to create a simple routine to signal to kids that class is starting, regardless of how class is being held!

  • Games, Games, Games!

If there was ever such a time when we needed to convey information in a fun and lighthearted way, it is now ~ especially for online learning! It is difficult for the little ones to stay focused on a Zoom call and games are just the thing!

  • Rethink Teaching Models

Although this is not the best of times, it is an opportunity to rethink how we teach! To go back to #2, what models are out there that can better meet my needs? Should I consider a flipped classroom where kids learn the material at home and practice in class? Should my curriculum be more project based? Etc.… How can I teach so that my students absorb the most information and enjoy it?

  • Think About Social Emotional Learning

SEL is the buzz phrase for this year ~ how are your kids emotional states? In music, we can help children create sounds and compositions to convey how they are feeling. We can sing stories and listen to music that communicate in a different way. “These are the skills they need to be successful outside of music and to confront their challenges with strength and skill. Music can be the preventative mental health our students need so they have the skills to confront the life challenges ahead of them” ~ Music Education and Social-Emotional Learning: The Heart of Teaching Music by Scott N. Edgar, Ph.D..