Monday, September 7, 2015


When I explain to people what my job is like, I relate it to a FAST FOOD Restaurant. I tell them that every 40 minutes I have a new customer. That customer comes in the room, get's a music lesson and goes out with a new or refined music skill (their order). So the way I keep my "sanity" with teaching 7 grade levels a day, is to keep certain rituals that I perform every week in my classroom. I have to admit, I can be the "crazy creative" person with stacks of files and papers on the piano, desk and file cabinet--but I've learned through the years that if I do the rituals every week, then I am much calmer and can greet my customers with a smiling face. Friday's are my toughest day. I just want to go home, or shopping or get to my weekend and I used to skip these rituals. That always meant a SCARY Monday! Now I really try hard to keep all of these rituals so that my weekend is stress free and I can do the other things that I enjoy in life. It's very much like getting the food order ready: PREPARING, Serving the customer the order: PRESENTING, Checking to make sure their order "tastes" good or is prepared correctly, PRACTICING. 

It may sound like a lot-but here's 12 things I do every WEEK to PREPARE my classroom to ensure that those 3 things happen in every class.

1. Tidy Up at the end of every week-dusting, wiping boards, putting away miscellaneous loose items.
I like to walk into a clean room on Monday, and the only way to do that is to leave it clean on Friday. So I'll take an extra few minutes and tidy up the room. I also have a catch phrase that I try to use all the time: "TOUCH IT ONCE". That means that if students are using xylophones, then they put them away. Whatever "props" the kids use during their class, I get them to clean up so that there's no residual messes to clean up at the end of the day. The students love to help and I enlist their help. I also feel like it helps them learn to be responsible. I do give out treats when someone's gone the extra mile. 
2. Post new "I CAN" statements on the board.

Usually my I CAN statements are good for a whole unit and I'm not changing them every week. I've also updated my posters from this picture-but I used to just write them on the board. That way my administrator can immediately see what the goals are for each grade.
3. Have Seat Charts and Lesson Plans and materials set out and ready for action.

I have so many lesson plans and calendars from teaching for so many years. So I will plan out the quarter with a list of things I think I want to do for each grade, but I put the details in a weekly planner.

 I also do a lot of units with my 5th and 6th graders and make up packets for them. My 5th graders play keyboards and my 6th graders play guitars. It's nice to have a packet that we work through for the whole year. 
4. Make a fresh "to do" list.

I will sit down at the computer and open up my Google Calendar and put in all of the important school dates for the next week. I also create a written list of things I need to do.
5. Connect with classroom teachers about students and calendar items.
I routinely meet up with different grade levels and connect with them about certain students or what's going on in their grade. When I'm preparing for a program, I'll type up all of the information they will need to communicate to parents and we'll sit down and go through the dates, times and general ideas before we put the plan into action. This way, I have their support when I need it!
6. Finish any emails or management items.

Sometimes I don't have time during the week to take care of "teacher" business. Things like professional development forms, health insurance, evaluations, survey's and all of the things that the district will ask us to do. I choose 1 day out of the week that I will stay a bit longer to get these types of things accomplished.
7. Thank the custodians for keeping my room clean.
I try to leave a little treat out on Fridays for my custodians. I used to bake a lot-now I'll just grab something from the store and leave it for them in their work room with a "Thank You". I feel like it's important to validate their hard work and they sure appreciate the treats!

8. Replenish my snack and water supplies.

I bring my own water to drink and lately I switched to bringing gallon jugs. I just leave a water bottle at work to use there. I found bringing things like this every day became very tedious. So I just stock up on water once a month or so.
9. Try to implement something new like a smart board game or new technology.

I love to learn to play new instruments. I play guitar, piano, ukulele, recorder, and I'm working on the Violin. I hope to learn the harp too.
10. Refine my own tools by practicing a new song or composing something. I do love to write songs! 

If I have the staff paper out-it's much easier to jot some ideas down. Then I can come back to the song later.
11. Reflect on my successes and my "things I need to do better" items. I think it's important to weigh in on the successes and "struggles" of the week.

I think when we reflect on our successes it empowers us to keep going and build on those successes. If no one else is "cheering" you on-then reward yourself for doing something "great" that week. One of my favorite "treats" is getting a massage, or my nails done. It's so much nice to have someone else do my toes than me crunching over and trying to paint them while I'm watching TV. What's your "treat?"
Lastly-but most importantly:
12. Be grateful for the chance to work at a job that let's me be totally true to myself and be a positive influence in the world.

When I leave on Friday knowing that Monday is going to be a breeze-I always have a great weekend! What things do you do every week to keep yourself on track?


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