At this time of year there are so many things to think about from classroom decoration to curriculum to behavior management strategies and more. Instead of worrying about a million different things, focus on the small and manageable pieces over which you actually have some control. I wanted to team up with some other music education bloggers to provide ideas that will help you get back into the swing of things and take the year by storm.
Supplies For all the germs and Runny Noses
There are some essentials that every teacher needs and really shouldn't have to ask for: dry erase markers, kleenex, lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. The sad reality is that school districts around the country are shrinking budgets and cutting back on supplies. Classroom teachers usually get to ask for those necessary supplies in yearly supply request lists, but often specialist teachers get left out of the mix. Here are three ways to get those items that you really need.
#1 - Ask People at School
It’s cold and flu season and kids are quickly going through tissues! I know that some grades require students to bring Kleenex, lysol wipes, and hand sanitizer every year with their school supplies. If you have a surplus of either and could spare a box of Kleenex or a bottle of hand sanitizer it would definitely help keep noses and hands clean in the music room!
Thanks so much,
Supplies rolled in from classroom teachers all over the building, but when I sent out that email I got a wonderful response from someone I didn't expect. Our fantastic school janitor wrote back to tell me that she would always provide kleenex and hand sanitizer for me and that she had some sprayable cleaning solution I could use too. Later that day she stopped by to drop off some supplies and asked if there was anything else I needed. It was so great to know that she had supplies (bought by the school) that I could ask for any time I ran out. The supplies were there, I just had to ask!
#2 - Wishlist Poster Outside Your Classroom
I like this idea because it doesn't put any pressure on parents and is open and honest about what teachers really need. Parents can see the poster and then come and have a conversation with you about what they can do to help. This system is also great because parents can pull down one item/one post it and take care of that supply for you. You're not asking for 25 kleenex boxes per parent, but instead you are giving them the option to contribute what they want and what they can.
Music Classroom Wishlist poster!
Ziplock Baggies Small
Ziplock Baggies Medium
Ziplock Baggies Large
Lysol Disinfecting wipes
iTunes Giftcard (any amount)
Dry Erase Markers (Expo Brand)
Colored Copy Paper
#3 Concert Connection
You really don't know what could happen until you ask. One year a friend of mine sent a note home to parents asking for help creating basic sets out of cardboard boxes. The parent of one students was a contractor and ended up getting heavy-duty supplies donated to the school. He then set to creating a stage, sturdy wooden backdrops, and lots of extra scenery. Another parent loved to paint and came in to help finish up and decorate the stage. My teacher friend asked for help making basic sets and when parents were done the gym had been transformed. You never know until you ask!
Are you going to make masks, props, or other items for the concert? Ask parents to pitch in during the creation process or (if nothing else) help supply the materials you need. For instance, if you're going to make bear masks for the whole group to wear during a certain song, ask parents to help donate the paper plates the masks will be created with. Are you going to do a ribbon movement piece? Ask parents to donate old spools of ribbon so that you can make new ribbon wands in lots of colors.
Feel free to ask parents for help on the night of the concert as well! Put a little note at the bottom of the concert program directing parents to your DonorsChoose.org account or your SignUpGenius account. Have an upcoming field trip and need chaperones? Mention that over the microphone right before the concert starts and see what happens. It would be easy to put a little sign by the door into your performance space that lists your classroom needs or how the parents can get involved in your classroom. Don't be afraid to ask for help. A lot of time parents and community members WANT to be involved but just don't know how to help.
If nothing else, ask for parent help tearing down and cleaning up. Last year right before our last song I said, "Thank you all so much for coming. We have one more song to perform tonight and we can't wait to get to it. I know that I speak for all the teachers here when I say that we really appreciate your support and encouragement tonight and every night. You are welcome to stay after the concert and get pictures with your students in front of the decorations or up on the risers. If you would be willing to fold up your chair and put it on the chair racks before you leave tonight, it would save the other teachers and me an hour or so of work. We really appreciate your help! Now, to our finale song!"
If you are a music education blogger and would like to participate in the "1, 2, 3 Ideas for Back to School" linkup, just tag your blog below. Feel free to use the "1, 2, 3" graphic above in your article as you share three ideas to get started in the new year. Don't forget to link back to this blog post so that readers can find all the articles!