It’s that time of year again, a brand new school year. Much like New Year’s resolutions, we resolve to make the coming school year better than the last. How can we make sure that we are successful and what can we do to make lasting improvements? The tips below will help you get started planning your new and better school year.
It All Starts With You
In order to motivate your students, you have to be motivated yourself. Self-care is one of the most effective ways to see positive changes in the area of your teaching because, a better rested, better, fed, happier you will have more to give to your students. It may be difficult to take care of yourself if you have children or many other responsibilities but you can make things just a little bit better for yourself tomorrow than they were today. The trick is to start with small improvements.
Here are some examples:
Drink more water, a hydrated you is a happier you. (Setting daily alarms can help with this if you find it difficult to remember)
Get more/better rest: It’s hard to function and be present for your students if you are tired. Some ways to get better rest are to try going to bed even a half hour earlier, and try having a “wind-down” routine to get yourself ready for a better night’s sleep
Do things that make you happy: Although your schedule may be packed, finding time to do things that make your happy pays dividends in other areas of you life including in your teaching. If you take time to do things that matter to you, you will be happier and less resentful when giving your time to others.
Improve your eating habits: Food is fuel for the body. The best car in the world filled up with terrible fuel will not perform well. This is hard. I know. But it is worth it. The trick is to make small sustainable choices. Water instead of soda, greens instead of fries; little changes can give you more energy to fuel success in the classroom.
Set Achievable Goals
Goal setting is the way to get from where you are, to where you want to be. There are many great ways to set goals both short term and long term. Here are some tips for setting goals you can actually achieve set in the popular “S.M.A.R.T.” Format.
Specific: Make sure to specify exactly what you want. Specificity is power and the more distinctions you can set about what you want the greater your chance of achieving it. An example of a specific goal would be: I want to build a 30 member traveling choir of 4th and 5th graders and perform two shows a year in our community.
Measurable: What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get better. When setting goals make sure to include criteria for success. I can be percentages of student success, or achievement in a certain time frame but find a way to know you’ve succeeded.
Achievable: It may be tempting to set massive goals and try to achieve them in an unrealistic time frame. While you can do much, much more than you may imagine it is still important to be able to achieve your goal. Aim high but know your limitations.
Relevant: The relevance of a goal is how worthwhile it its. Before setting off to achieve the goal, ask yourself: If it appropriate for my students and community? Does it put my students’ best interest in mind? Is this the right time for the goal?
Time-Bound: If your goal doesn’t have both a start and an end point, then the motivation to finish is decreased. Set times to start, check and review progress, and a deadline to complete the goal.
Create Systems That Work For You
Organization can make a music teacher’s life so much easier. Having a place for everything and everything in it’s place can help transitions, and classroom procedures run smoothly. I call the whole of organization, rituals, and routine “classroom systems”.
The key is to find systems that work for you and a quick way to know if something needs a system is to ask:
Where is time wasted?
What procedures are unorganized
Does everything have a place?
What feels chaotic and needs to change?
What frustrates me the most?
Some examples of systems that you can use are:
Writing or in-app grade books
Procedures for passing out and collecting papers
Class Jobs like: Chair Straightener, and Recorder Washer
These are just a few tips that will help make the start of the school year better for you. Let me know of others that you think of in the comments below.