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funinthesun 08-24-2011 03:54 AM

Momma hen needs help!
Hi! I am a 23 year veteran teacher, and my son just got a music elem ed position! He is very excited, but I am not sure how much I should be "helping" him as opposed to letting him use his own wings to fly...He knows his music (I have no experience with that) but needs some assistance with the management/discipline piece. I realize that a music classroom looks different from a grade classroom, so I am asking for two things: advice on management for him teaching classes K-5 general music, (First day routines, rules, etc) and advice for me to be a "helpful" not control freak mom! Thanks everyone!

musictex 09-20-2011 05:09 PM

I see this is kind of an old question, but in case it helps anyone else: absolutely the best thing I did for myself as a first-year elementary music teacher was to go watch master teachers in action. I learned so much about style, pacing and management that could never be conveyed in any book from watching teachers who were the best in our field. He should try to watch a teacher whose classes are similar in size and demographics to the ones he teaches.

No one writes about managing a music classroom anyway; it's completely different from any other kind of classroom. The advice I would give to your son is that a well-designed lesson prevents most problems. You need to plan to change activities, or at least your approach, every 5-10 minutes depending on the grade level. Fourth and fifth graders can hold it together for longer if the activity is high-interest. Plan to break every task down into manageable steps, and to include a singing, instrumental, listening and movement component in every class. Be very explicit with expectations regarding instrument use, and teach and re-teach routines in every class, particularly with the younger grades.

Your son should expect to work HARD. Fair or not, students come to specials expecting to have a break from the regular classroom and be entertained. I am a non-stop singing, dancing, drumming, xylophone-playing machine from 8:45 when my first class walks in until 2:50 when my last one leaves, with one quick breather for lunch. Elementary music by its very nature is mostly comprised of teacher-led, large-group activities. Rarely do you get to give a short lesson, have the students break into small groups and do their work (sometimes in the upper grades, but in the lower ones, forget it). You have to be ON all the time. Your son will be exhausted, but he will get used to it and come to enjoy it. :)

Teaching music to elementary kids is a wonderful, rewarding profession and I wouldn't do anything else. I hope he enjoys it as much as I do.

funinthesun 11-02-2011 05:47 PM

Thank you, Musictex
Sorry I never got to reply sooner to your post, have been very helpful and insightful! He is working hard as you say, and learning as he goes...we laugh each night at some of the lessons that work and some that haven't! He is very hard on himself, as any new (and old!) teacher is, but from my experience, he seems to be doing a wonderful job. You are right about teaching whole group and yes, the kids seem to be in a more relaxed state as they come away from academics for a break. This will be a year of trial and error for him, but his passion for music will hopefully rub off on the students! Thanks again for taking the time to help! Hope your year is going well for you!

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