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Getting a Great Start to Making a Fabulous Year

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Screen shot 2009-09-06 at 11.12.12 AMI just finished another podcast with Brenda concerning “Classroom Rules,” on our blogcast “Musicially and Technically Speaking.” The start of the year with all it’s organizational rules and information can be overwhelming for any student and extremely boring. I start the year with a BANG! Limited information, only on a “need to know” basis.

Since I teach grades fourth through eighth, I have the same students year to year. The rules don’t change as they progress up the grade levels. Actually, they become looser depending upon the individual student and/or class. I DO NOT have classroom rules that pertain to the entire music program. I agree with Brenda on that point – the only rule you need is RESPECT.

The first day of fourth graders it is important that they leave the music room with a “WOW!” As they enter the room, they immediately sit on the rug in the middle of the room, I go over the class list by reading their names and asking questions about THEM. They quickly find a chair and again they say their names, as I write down their names. This is a seating chart I post on the wall. If they forget where they sit, THEY can refer to the seating chart WITHOUT asking me where they sit. They sing the school song, stand up and sing in groups, and then sing solos. I give points for everything. Only when a student asks, why – I tell them it is for awards for the end of the year and show they the statue they receive if they do all they have to do, Finally, they sit in front of the Promethean Board and I show them my website where the “Links” are so they can play music games at home. The first day is very fast paced and with much movement. The students line up and out the door they go. They are happy that they actually got to “do” something and have a something to “do” on the computer at home.

So, where were the rules?  They were interwoven as they came in, I don’t allow talking out and swiftly nip it as it occurs. When students are singing the school song and dance around, I immediately praise the student and give them extra points. Students begin to see that innovation and creativity are valued and given rewards. As they raise their hands I immediately call on them. Their questions and concerns are acted upon.

The fifth through eighth graders first day is quite different. They sit outside the music classroom, as they come from various different parts of the school setting. I tell them the organizational rule of no backpacks, books, water, or anything other than a jump drive to the music classroom. The students that come with supplies, put their materials in a row outside the classroom. They enter and sit on the rug. I welcome them back and have them stand my the eight places in the room I post the ten rules. We read the rules together and then they find a station. They do NOT log in, I want to make sure that there are only two students on a station. If they would like three in a group, I want to make sure that there is enough room to put them on two computer stations for that to happen.

I reintroduce my website and the new additions, curriculum, and other important information. They have the rest of the time to just play the piano keyboards, use any software they like or be on www.carolbroos.com We start the projects on the second day. Here again, I want them to “do” something along with following the rules. The older the student the more “hyper” they are on the first day. The moment I getting them back to the lab and they start to create, all the hyperness is gone and they are quietly at work.

So I am sure that you are asking what are those ten rules –

  1. No water bottles, food, hats (even on hat days) or drinks allowed.
  2. The only thing you may have in your hand is “music equipment.” (No backpacks, pencils, pens, allowed.)
  3. You must be invited to the “desk area.”
  4. You are assigned a computer station and seat location.
  5. When moving your chair to your computer spot, lift chair in front of you.
  6. Arrange computer station, tell Mrs. Broos immediately if problems.
  7. Do not put headsets on unless told.
  8. Headsets: Left is right, right is wrong.
  9. Do not start until told.
  10. No “tearing apart” of headset cord.
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