In one year and 3 months I will be a retired Elementary Vocal and General Music Specialist. In that year+ I hope to make available here the lesson plans and activities that I use from cycle to cycle. Since my district operates on a 4 day cycle, hopefully new plans will appear every 4 to 5 days. It is my hope that these lessons and ideas will prove to be useful to music teachers new and not so new. I’m not sure what form this blog will take. Sometimes it may be written as a formal lesson plan, other times as a log of what I’ve done that day. I welcome comments,contributions and discussions of activities and methods that have worked for other teachers.
In my district I have been fortunate for many years to have some budget money available to me. Still, “Music Teacher” is not just what I do; it’s a big part of who I am. So I’ve spent my own money over the years, filling in what gaps I could in order to help make myself the best music teacher I could possibly be.
Several years ago I was contacted by a new teacher who had recently been hired to a large city school district. To carry out his job he was given a piano and a sixth grade teacher’s manual. No curriculum, and no budget. Wow. I advised him to spend some of his own money on some basic items: MusicK-8 Magazine, available from Plank Road Publishing, an iPod and an iPod speaker. (MusicK-8 magazine comes with recorded cd’s of all of the songs it contains, and permission to copy songs for your own students.) He already had and could play a guitar. Those 3 core items plus some creativity and ingenuity can get a fledgling music program off the ground.
At the end of next year my replacement will inherit a great deal more than that. In recent years I’ve been fortunate to receive a laptop computer with an iTunes account, yearly subscriptions to Musick-8 Magazine and Music Express Magazine, A set of Xylophones, Metallophones and Glockenspiels , totaling 11 instruments, and the MusicPlay series complete with recorder materials and many other extras. I will take with me a library of over 300 books that I purchased myself, an extensive collection of puppets, my own personal VCR/DVD player, my own iPod and Bose speaker, and many additional resources that have made my job easier and more fun to do.
So, my first word of advice to a new teacher would be to establish a professional yearly budget from your own pocket to supplement whatever budget you may have. When you find a resource that would be helpful to you and your program, buy it. You get an automatic $250.00 credit on your federal income tax for money that you spend on your classroom, and, should you spend significantly more than that, you may be able to deduct even more.
In future posts I’ll address setting up a classroom, should you be fortunate enough to have one, or the alternative of working off of a cart. For now, on to some lesson plans.