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Setting The Tone: How Start This School Year Off Right

"From the time that you first open your eyes in the morning, you need to set the tone for the day, and the first question you need to ask yourself is 'what am I going to do to get better today?'" -Billy Alsbrooks

Setting the tone is the act of determining the course of events and what they will mean for a given situation, and setting the tone for the school year puts you and your students on the path of success.

Setting The Tone With Yourself

Before you can even think about setting the tone with your students and classes, you have to set the tone in your own life. Although this will look different for each person there are certain things that can be done that set our lives up for success.

"The first step to success is putting the right things into your mind"- Billy Alsbrooks

What is the first thing you do in the morning? Most of the worlds most successful people have a morning routine that sets the tone for each day. They focus their minds on positive things, train their bodies with physical fitness, and nourish themselves with a healthy nutrient rich breakfast. This self-care primes them to find and multiply the positive aspects of any situation, endure the rigors of an active day because they have been conditioned physically, and maintain a high level of focus and alertness because their minds can draw upon the energy of a healthy breakfast.

When we consistently practice a positive morning routine the challenges of the day just don't get to us the same way they would if we rolled out of bed and started our school day in a fog. If you want to set the tone to start your school year off right, start by creating a morning routine that sets each of your school days up for success.

Action Questions:

  • What are two things, one big and one small that I can do in the morning to help me set the tone for the day?

  • What daily activities help me focus on positive outcomes? Quiet time? Daily literature? Spiritual practices?

  • What things should I NOT do first thing in the morning? Turn on the TV? Read or watch negative media outlets? Get distracted on social media?

Let these action questions be a starting point to form a morning routine that works for you.

Setting The Tone With Your Classes

The first day of school determines the course for the entire rest of the year. It is imperative to establish a climate of respect and high expectations with your students to let them know what to expect the rest of the year.

"Don't smile until Christmas?"

Have you ever heard this advice before? It's controversial because while not smiling and being strict can create a climate of obedience in you classroom, it is more than likely out of fear.

I prefer a charismatic approach with an expectation of high standards. Let me explain:

There are two qualities that a person will use to perceive a person as charismatic: warmth and competence. Warmth describes a quality of approachability, safety, and caring. Competence describes ability, power, and stature.

The following chart explains what happens when the two characteristics are perceived in high and low amounts in a teacher.

My goal is to be perceived as warm and competent by my students so that a climate of trust and openness is fostered, however a high standard of behavior and musicianship is also upheld.

Action Questions:

  • Which of the two charisma qualities is my strength?

  • Which of the two charisma qualities do I need to strengthen more?

  • What is one area in which I can improve how I set the tone for my classes this year? Consistency of consequences? Data tracking? Higher expectations?

Setting The Tone With Your Ensembles

Ensembles are one of my favorite parts of being an elementary music teacher. If you don't already have an ensemble at your school, strongly consider starting one this year.

The way I like to set the tone with my ensembles is setting goals. I like to challenge the musical limits of my ensembles by setting achievable goals for them to strive for, and then taking action to achieve those goals. This includes auditioning for state and county performance groups, and even music festivals and special events.

Setting a goal to audition for a performance and trip to Disney is bound to get your students excited about performing in your group. When you can attach the goal to the effort that your students must exert to reach the goal, you'll be amazed what they can do.

Action Questions:

  • What is one goal that would really cause my ensemble to stretch its limits to achieve?

  • By when would I like to achieve this goal?

  • What steps would I have to take to achieve this goal?

Set grand outcomes for you and your students to aspire to and let the excitement fuel your way to achievement.

Leave a comment below and let me know what ways you plan to set the tone for this school year!

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