It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a wandering child is in want of distraction. I wonder if Jane Austen ever wrote commentary on the social interaction and distraction of children. Leave just one thing to question, and you run the risk of classroom chaos.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned to other adults that I had to teach procedures to my students. If I had, it would’ve probably gone something like this…
Me: I have to teach my students how to enter the music room.
Adult: *chuckling* Sure…
Me: No. Really…I do.
Adult: *blank stare*
As adults, we take for granted those things we learned as children, such as standing in line and walking (not running) in hallways. We forget that we ever had to learn those things at all. We may even forget why they’re important.
Teach your students to run on autopilot. Show them where to go and how to get there. You will probably need to practice this procedure several times at the start of the year. You’ll also need to review this procedure from time to time as the year goes on. Don’t allow the procedures to fade away into a puddle. It never hurts to practice procedures.
I always found exiting class to be a tricky procedure to implement. I spent the entire music class winding the kids up (so-to-speak), and then expected them to be presentable when their homeroom teacher arrived. I had to have activities ready that could be performed as students stood in line, while providing the opportunity to quickly get quiet once the classroom teacher arrived. Thus, the Sound Game was born.
For every supply or instrument in the classroom, there was a procedure in how to get it, handle it, and put it away. It may seem like a waste of time to show your students how to carry instruments as they walk back to their spot. Trust me though, it will save you many bent Boomwhackers and broken pencils in the future.
My favorite way to teach proper handling of supplies and instruments was to stand in front of the class and melodramatically handle everything incorrectly. The kids would always laugh, telling me that I was doing it wrong. Then, I would ask the students to show me how to properly handle the materials. They would call out answers, and I would model it for them. This gave them the opportunity to show that they understood the procedures.
Plus, you have a much better chance of the concept sticking if you’ve made the class laugh. Pretending to stick erasers up your nose is the height of comedy for some kids. I can’t imagine where I got the idea…
For transitions, I most often did steady beat activities or call/echo patterns. For example, I might ask the students to get in a circle by tiptoeing/hopping/jumping to the steady beat. Usually, I just played a steady beat pattern on whatever instrument was close by at the time. Or I might choose a piece from my steady beat playlist on itunes.
If they needed a short rest from physical activity, I would sing familiar Solfege patterns and ask them to echo back. If they needed extra focus, I would ask them to “name that tune” after they echoed.
My procedures for whole class discussions were simple: wait your turn and listen. I think it’s important to teach the art of conversation, which is that we don’t just hear what others are saying, we listen and genuinely think about what they’ve said. We should be responding to others’ ideas, not just closing ourselves off to our own thoughts.
I wanted them to understand that every voice deserves to be heard. Always.
What procedures do you find vital to your classroom management? Please share them with us in the comments below!