Teaching On A Prayer

Full disclosure, my friends, I got the idea for this blog during my church’s Trunk or Treat when Livin’ on a Prayer came on and it made me think about how teachers are surviving right now. We’re surviving on sheer will and quite frankly, a prayer. We have to hold on to what we’ve got, it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not, we’ve got each other and that’s a lot…  Oh, we’re halfway there, o-oh teaching on a prayer! Truer words have never been spoken, Mr. Bon Jovi. Can you believe we still have over 7 months until the summer? How will we ever make it there?  

5 Things to Get Us to the Summer

1. Hold on to what we’ve got

We’ve spent half the school year either avoiding getting sick, being sick, keeping kids from getting sick and trying to teach without enough. Enough staff, stuff, and all the things. We need to keep holding on to the things we do have and keep working. The students aren’t misbehaved because they dislike us or our content, they’re misbehaved because they are trying to regulate. Trust me, just when we find our groove, summer will hit, and we will have to reset in August again. Find ways to use existing resources, TpT resources, social media, and your fellow music teachers in your district to find new and innovative ways to teach students your content. The children are not fully ready to dive into full grade level content and that is ok. The beauty of what we do is that we watch these kiddos grow up and we get to adjust to their specific needs. How cool is that? Other grade level teachers do not have that luxury, but we do. We can adjust in the years to come; we can send our fifth graders off knowing they are loved and valued and have an appreciation of making music with people who care for them. That’s an amazing thing we should not discount.

2. Find someone in your building to talk to

I know that often times music teachers are working alone and do not have another person in their building to talk to about specific music things, but I’m sure there is someone in our building that can commiserate with you about administrative changes, directives that make no sense, and student shenanigans. Sometimes just venting about those things is enough to keep the grumpiness away. We need to know we are not alone in our feelings and in our struggles. Also, we may also be the person who can offer some insight on how to solve some problems and think outside the box.

3. Plan, plan, plan and prepare for the plan to fall apart

I’m a planner, in fact I own like three of them. I’m also able to teach the best lesson by the seat of my pants. Impromptu observation when you planned to show a video about instrument families to save your voice for the tenth time that week? No problem! I can launch into an instrument petting zoo, with information about all the things, complete with higher order thinking questions. I can also plan every song, by concept, for months in advance and execute those plans without even batting an eyelash. Plans are wonderful, long-range planning brings us some comfort, short range planning is great for the times we have disruptions to our plans, but will the lesson fall apart, probably. Will there be a fire drill for the millionth time that month, absolutely, you can plan on it. Have some back up plans ready to go, some quick teach, group activities you can pull out whenever you need to. Have a stash of books, play-alongs, videos, coloring sheets, anything you can quickly pull out, teach, and send the kids off to work on. If a lesson tanks, do not take it personally, dust off that game the kids love to play and do that instead.

4.  Don’t be afraid to dream: Dream of what used to be and what will be again

I miss the old days, when I would work for months on a performance that lasted 26 minutes, that we would somehow stretch to at least 30 minutes so that our PTA meeting would be a total of 45 minutes and worth the parents drive up to the school. I don’t think those days are completely gone, but they are on hold for everyone’s safety right now. So, let’s do some “informances”, use the skills virtual learning taught us and make videos of our kids and what we’re doing in our classrooms and push those out via Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or even Zoom! Bring the parents to your classroom and show what our kids can do and keep reaching out to the community. We put together a video of some of our classes singing a Veteran’s Day song to post on our schools’ social media instead of our entire school Veteran’s Day program we used to host. It is a huge deal at our school, but we just didn’t feel it would be safe to do this year, so we came up with something else. We can still reach our community, advocate for music education, and bring awesome music to our families, just in a different way.

5. Take my hand, we’ll make it, I swear!

Find other music teachers you can brainstorm with, follow my blog and social medias, and a few others I follow here:

Becca’s Music Room by Rebecca Davis

Mrs. Miracle’s Room by Aileen Miracle

O For Tuna by Aimee Pfitzner

Make Moments Matter by David Rowe

We can do this, friends! Together, we can conqour this school year and not only survive, but thrive!

Sing! Say! Dance! Play! Care!


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