Monday, September 7, 2020

2020-2021 Here We Go! Tips for hybrid/ virtual general music learning!


Wow! What a start to the year! My school is currently hybrid and I am actually kind of loving it.  Half of our students come Mon/Tues and the other half Thurs/Fri.  Wednesday is dedicated to google meets, making videos, and meetings.  

While hybrid, specials teachers in my district see our students in person 1x a week for 30 minutes and then we are supposed to also make 1 video lesson per grade that students can watch and do at home for asynchronous music learning. 

Making videos has been so fun! My specials team has a theme each week to make our lessons kind of cohesive go help families out with the amount of work students have to do. My videos are not fancy at all, but I am basically just pretending that students are in the room and doing a (slightly shortened) version of the lesson I would already be presenting them already.  Each video is done in one continuous take- if I mess up, I start over.  I do this so I am not spending hours editing- I would rather focus on lesson content than be at my own computer all day splicing videos together.  Are there mistakes in my videos- you bet- but does that happen when I am teaching in person as well? Of course! I think it is important for students to see me as human and not a perfect musician- so they feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes as well! 

Here are my top 5 tips for virtual/ hybrid learning: 

1. Pretend the kids are in the room! When doing toddler music lessons with my kids this summer (yay WeJoySing!) I LOVED that his teacher just taught the lesson as she would as if all the toddlers were with her.  She gave shoutouts to kids during each lesson, played games (and sometimes got her husband to join for 2 person games), sang, moved, danced, etc.  It was as if she was really in our living room.  This is what I am trying to do for my students.  As Artie Almeida says "Heavy Academics, Delivered Joyfully"  I am trying to bring joy to each lesson while not compromising on song literature, content, etc.  even while teaching partly in person, and partly through recorded videos. To helps with at-home learning, I sent home music go-bags with a few materials they will use throughout the year and just let them know at the beginning of the video what they will need.  Go-Bags do not have to be expensive! You can also send home a list of materials for students to find (with alternates) so that students can be playing instruments, composing, and more- all at home.  

Go Bag: 

2 wooden dowels (kids could also use kitchen utensils!)

homemade egg shaker (kids could use keys or an old rattle) 

2 plastic dessert plates

1 scarf (I cut up a plastic table cloth) (do they have an bandana- or even or a kleenex?)

Page Protector (used as dry erase board!)with the following: 

    Heartbeat chart 

    Rhythm boxes chart

    Single Rhythm cards (1 beat per card) 

    Body Percussion Cards 


2. Get kids moving! Even though I sometimes feel a little silly moving by myself in my classroom, I always try to get kids moving in our lessons, both in person (non-locomotor) and virtually. Kids are getting so much screen time, I think it is so important to get them off of the screen for a bit. I try to make my lessons as active as possible, even with the in-person restrictions that are in place.  My weekly assignments are very simple, and often doing/ creating something OUTSIDE.  My specials team had a camping theme for our first two weeks so my music assignment was to go on a listening walk.  Students LOVED it- and so did families because it got kids outside for bit.  I also plan to have students find sticks or other outdoor materials to write rhythms, create a rhythm 4 square game, use found objects to create patterns, and more.  Some of my videos are on youtube- check it out! New videos with no props will be posted soon, as many schools are not allowing any sharing of equipment. 

3. Utilize pre-made materials and lessons.  It is getting easier as I go into week 4 of school but there are definitely still times I feel super overwhelmed with all that is happening.  While I am enjoying making videos, I am also trying to utilize materials I made last year, or curriculum materials I have access to.  I have this year and it is so great! There is so much on the site to have kids really practicing their rhythms, solfege, vocab, and more- they love it and it is already made for me.  I do not have to spend time making interactive games or accompaniments to songs- it is already there.  I am also utilizing Teachers Pay Teachers, as well as things I have made myself in the past.  I am posting past movement routines and other lessons.  (And in the future- I will have SO MANY sub plans ready!) 

4. Make your space feel like home.  I am very fortunate to still be in my classroom this year while we are hybrid and I decorated it with a Watermelon theme. I absolutely love coming into my room each day.  If you are teaching from home, try to utilize a corner or even just a poster that you put up for each video to give your students (and yourself!) a consistent classroom feel. Most of my vidoes are made in my classroom, but when I make them at home I use a corner of my bedroom with a cozy chair and fun hexagon shelves I dressed with gifts from students and picture books I love.  I had big plans to decorate my cart as well, until it was decided at the last minute that I would be able to use my room. Check out my watermelon decor HERE

5. ROCK WHAT YA GOT and GIVE GRACE!  This situation is so different for everyone this year- teachers, students, and parents.  My running theme for the year is Rock What Ya Got.  My students and I are rocking body percussion, only singing in videos or outside more than 12ft apart, lots of non-locomotor movement, rhythm reading, music history, music vocab and more. I am also trying to remember that parents and students are rocking what they got as well, and not everyone is tech savvy or has the same internet access.  Not everyone can come to live google meets, or find the time to make sure everything gets done each week.  I am giving a LOT of grace to students and parents this year.  I know that they are doing their best and I want them to know that I care more about them than being sure that each tiny little part of each assignment is done.  I want families to know I am here for them, and will help them with anything I can. I do not want to add just "one more thing" to the plate of a family, I want to be sure that all the music videos and assignments are joyful and a time that families look forward to completing and singing along with, rather than a burden.  

Give yourself grace as well! There are so many people doing awesome things that make others feel like imposters.  As long as you are delivering your lessons with love and joy- students will see that and LOVE music.  You don't need a virtual classroom, or to edit your videos to add in special effects/ green screen etc.  If you want to do those things- awesome! But if you don't that's awesome, too. Do what you need to do to make this year work for you and your students and try not to compare yourself to other teachers.  It is so hard, and we often ALL feel imposter syndrome at some point, but YOU ARE AMAZING! Rock What Ya Got and have a great year! 

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