Saturday, January 23, 2016

Music Maternity Leave- What to Leave for the Sub

Welcome back to my 3 part series on how to plan for a Music Maternity Leave.  Post one was on questions to ask the potential substitutes in the interview.  Check it out HERE.
This post will be on what to communicate to, and leave for the sub.  I ended up making a binder AND a dropbox folder for my substitute so she had a hard and digital copy of everything. 
What I left:
Procedural Information
Schedule- in my IDOCEO App on my IPAD
Seating Charts- in my IDOCEO App on my IPAD
Emergency Procedures- Fire, Tornado, Lock-down, Shelter-in-place, etc.
Bathroom Procedure- this one is important because I teach in a modular classroom so students need a special pass to get back in the building to use the restroom!
Pertinent Student Info like serious allergies, behaviors to watch out for etc.
Music Room Rules and Behavior Management Plan-We use what is called "The Wilson Way" at school so I outlined this plan and shared how I implement it in the music room. 
Phone numbers, emails, etc. of Important people- This includes contact info for people such as the piano tuner, the ordering contact (we have a specific person all orders go through that is not the school secretary), the PTA treasurer for concert accompaniment payments, the accompanist list, etc.
What To Teach
What I had already taught-I left her information on where students were including concepts known.
Song Lists- This included songs students already learned this year as well as songs for the concepts they are working on that I typically teach and Master Copies/ Retrievals for them all. There was a separate list for each grade with songs already known and then I also attached my master song list that is an excel sheet with a tab for each grade and concepts the song helps teach marked.
Where students should go- I left very specific information on what I wanted her to teach.  This included an overview, my year plan, and a document called "What we know and Goals For Sub" that went into much more detail.  Check out my quick 3rd grade info below:
3rd Grade: 
    What We Know-
Solfa: m-s-l (working on do but calling it Low) Rhythm: Quarter, eighth, quarter rest, and tika-tika (4 beamed 16th notes- just learned!) Forte vs Piano, repeat sign 
What we need to work on while you are here
1.Music Math (know number of sounds/ beats for each rhythm they know- all are 1 beat, but all have a different number of sounds) 
2.Continue to prep (and maybe even present) do.  –Hometone- need to approach from Sol to do and mi- to do as well as do-sol before they are ready to learn name. Also need to be able to read (both staff and solfa notation), write (using manipulatives), and aurally ID (can you hear it type games) 
3.Practice Tika-tika- just practice practice practice so they can really read, write, hear and sing this pattern really successfully! Jazz Pizzicato and Mozart’s Rondo alla Turka! 
4.Crescendo and Decrescendo, mezzo 
5.Start to talk about tempos (Extreme tempos first- Largo and Presto) 
6.Use classical listening examples when talking about dynamics, tempo, etc.
Needed information for Chorus-Because I not only teach General Music for grades 1-6 but also chorus I left a specific document for chorus with information on our upcoming concert.  I did not plan a lot for this concert because I was gone from one week after the previous concert until 2 days AFTER the winter concert happened.  I started a few songs and left some suggestions, but really I left this concert to the sub and allowed her to make it her own.
Access to SMARTBOARD Game files and other manipulatives- I made sure to leave my school computer and give Katie access to all the game files she might want to use through use of this computer.  In my plans for the first 2 weeks, I even linked the files directly into the lesson plan so she didn't have to search at all. 
Lessons for the first two weeks- I made these lessons basically what I would have done for these two weeks.  I gave time for introductions and added a lot of review games, but also made sure there was lots of singing, games, and dancing for the sub to teach the students and the students to teach the sub.  I hope they worked out!  The 2nd week was planned fairly quickly cause little man came early and I wasn't quite ready! More on my plans will be in the next post. 
In addition to the above documents, I also gave my sub access to the Chorus email list (not my email account) and my schoology account (though she hasn't used it).  Communication during my time off has also been key.  Katie has emailed me once or twice a week since I took off and I have no problem responding to those.  Though some may prefer to not be involved at all while on leave, I loved having that little bit of communication to reassure me that my classroom was in good hands.
Katie and I also talked a lot about my teaching style, and while one student told her mom "the sub teaches different" I know that Katie is doing her best to respect my teaching style while adding in her own personality. 
Comment if you think anything else is super important to leave for a long-term sub!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Music Maternity Leave- Questions for the Interview

Sitting here on Maternity Leave I thought I would make a few posts about finding and working with my substitute (she is wonderful!) because I know I had A LOT of questions when searching and planning.  This will be a 3 part series: 1. The Interview 2. What to Communicate To, and Leave for, the Sub and 3. Planning For your Absence

For me, certain questions in the interview were VERY important and telling.  My principal and I ended up interviewing 3 people for the position.  Obviously things like experience, degree, etc. are very important but I found that I was more interested other, less typical questions, when choosing someone who was going to be with my kiddos for 2 months!

Some of the most important questions I asked were:

1. Sing something for me- My principal and some interviewees were surprised when I asked this - but I am SO glad we did. One candidate, even though they had a music degree, would not have been able to lead a class of elementary students.  This question also shows confidence and preparedness. Only one candidate (the one we hired) had something prepared- and it was actually part of a chorus piece she was hoping to use with our chorus.  Awesome!

2. Tell me about a time that teaching music brought the children JOY- This one was another great question.  I loved the answers I got. You could really tell if a candidate was in the profession for the kids. 

3. What is your knowledge of the Kodaly/ Orff (or whatever you use most in your classroom) ways of teaching??- I definitely live in Kodaly world so I wanted someone who would at least respect that there are often unknowns in my teaching so that students can discover solfege and rhythms organically.  One of the candidates was VERY surprised when I said that I do not name concepts immediately and I felt that they would immediately try to teach all the unknowns as soon as I was gone.  The Substitute we chose, while not super familiar with Kodaly was very receptive and expressed that while she was new to it, she was eager to learn more and would respect my way of teaching, while still putting her own spin on it.  

4. How will I know what you have accomplished upon my return?- While I am not back yet, my sub is very organized and assured me she would take thorough notes, grades, etc. and since we have been in communication the whole time (one or two emails a week) I have no doubt that she will do just that.  She is also planning on helping with our spring musical and other things after I am back so we will be able to discuss her time with my students thoroughly while working on other things.

5. What are your strengths as a teacher/ what are your favorite things to teach?-  If you are interviewing for an elementary GM position and your candidate says they love to teach marching band they might not be the best fit (yep, it happened). I wanted someone who, while I knew they wouldn't teach just like I do, found joy in being with students from 1st grade through 6th.  Who wasn't afraid to be silly with the littles and more serious, yet still fun, with the older kids. 

6. What is the big picture goal of Elementary Music Class (or whatever level of music you teach)?- This one is important because I wanted someone with a similar goal of  instilling a LOVE of all types of music in students so that they can go out into the world with an appreciation of music and be, as John Fierabend says, Tuneful-Beatful-Artful and doing this through teaching music literacy.

I hope that when looking for a long-term sub for your music room these questions help!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Emoji Evaluations

Just a short post here to share a fun activity I did with my students after our Veterans Day Concert. 

Instead of the typical worksheet concert evaluation, I decided to do an Emoji Evaluation.

6th Graders Performing on Veterans Day
I printed out a bunch of emojis (I just googled them) and then laminated them and made them into magnets.  I then wrote a bunch of categories on the board and had students evaluate each song using the emjois.  They had so much fun! I loved seeing how they interpreted each icon (cause I was unsure of the meaning of all of them...) and it was a fun way to bring their every day life into our classroom.  I will definitely be doing this activity again after our Spring Concert (I am on maternity leave for the Winter one)! I may also do an online version in Schoology where they do the same thing but on their own as an assignment to get individual evaluations as well. 
This is also a great activity for a sub in chorus right after a concert! I was out for one of my groups at a meeting and the sub had so much fun doing this activity!

Categories I used for evaluation:
Facial Expression
Overall Sound
Overall Performance
I promise they had more fun than this picture looks!

Some 5th Grade thoughts

We need to work on Facial Expressions!

In General Music you could use this same activity for evaluating group projects, compositions, and more- the possibilities are endless! Have fun!