Advice for the 1st Years


Subject: Re: [MK8]The first few classes


I had read on our wonderful list once about an idea which I use every year. I hold a bag with items that would describe me, who i am and what my interests are.  For example, I have a book, a miniature piano, a picture of my dog, etc. and I call students up to select an item from the bag, and they get the idea that I am also a person, not just their teacher. It breaks the ice with the students I am meeting for the first time! Susan B




From the Mk8list Re: K-8 LESSON PLANNING


The first year I was teaching music, I did many general lessons which could go across the grade levels.  For instance, when I was learning their names, I did a lesson with the primary and a lesson with the upper grades.  Many of the lessons are adaptable across the grade levels, you just expect the upper grades to go further with the lesson.  The second year I would use those lessons for 1st and 3rd graders and then I would begin new lessons for 2nd and 4th graders.  The third year I implemented even more lessons, so that eventually I have them for each separate grade levels.  Many of my lessons, especially at the beginning of the year are similar: The student will become familiar with names of the students in the classroom through musical song.   Then I use a couple of different songs, depending on the grade level.  In my lesson plans I just have to write "Name Song" and if it is 1st grade I might write down the song, "Everybody Has a Name", but if it is 5th Grade, I would use  some kind of Name Game. 

Have a set agenda every day, so the students know... first we will be doing this, then we will be doing that... then it is time for such and such.  This helps tremendously.   I have a Mystery Composer and we read the facts about the composer, then we solve the rhythm of the week, usually a two measure pattern where I eventually add a repeat sign at the end to make it four measures.  Next we do the Mystery Melody and then we start the lesson.  I have a star student who gets to be the helper and they get to play a bull's eye toss game and win candy if they can tell me what they landed on.  With these small routines on the agenda, the kids know that the first thing they are going to do is come in quietly and then we will read the Composer Facts with the Star Student leading us.  The discipline plan follows this routine as well and they earn points  for everything they do...Reading composer facts together, (Teamwork) solving the  Rhythm of the Week (Problem Solving Skills) Solving the Mystery Melody  (Cooperation) coming in quietly (Respect for others) Clapping politely for the  star student (Audience Behavior) and then we move into a lesson where they  practice using instruments appropriately (Respect for Instruments) Play or sing  together (Cooperation) and (Giving Best Effort) and lining up  quietly. (Respect for others and Appropriate behavior) The KISS Method is essential for your first year... Keep it Simple, Sister! 

Good Luck and visit the Idea Bank or archives for even more ideas.


Caryn  Mears

Kennewick, WA



Subject: "But Mrs. Soandso did it this way" 


As I read the comments from first year teachers going into their first experience and the comments from more experienced teachers going into a different school this year, I think I'll warn you of something that's gonna happen.

Take it to the bank.

You WILL hear "Mrs. Soandso did it THIS way" or some variation.  You WILL hear "I liked her way better" or some variation.

Years ago, some wise person suggested that when a kid makes an impossible statement, you can respond by saying , "I wish that.... (fill in the blank)."  It kinda grants their desire without granting it at all.

Sidebar:  Why can't we have prizes when we learn something in music?

Answer:  I wish I.... (choose) had the money to buy them; had a bunch of them in my pocket; knew a magic fairy....)

Sidebar:  Why can't I have another turn?

Answer:  I wish we had enough time; I wish the class had been ready.

The "wish" statement from you shows compassion and acceptance and gives aloving response; THEN you just go back to what you're doing. You don't change what you're planning to do and you NEVER say it temperamentally!

Example:"Mrs. S&S always did it this way."

Response:  "She must have been a good teacher to be able to do that;  I wish I could do it so easily, but I can't.  But I can do it THIS way, and I'm the only teacher you have in music this year, so let's try that instead."

"I wish Mrs. S&S would come back."

Response:  "I wish you could have the same teacher every year, but sometimes people have to move.  So I hope you'll pretty soon get used to having me."


I would hope that new-to-school teachers would NEVER be snotty about kids voicing their feelings.  It's normal and predictable that they will and so - hey, WE're the grown-ups here - we have to take a deep breath, refuse to take it personally and intervene in a kind, progressive manner. So don't take it personally, don't get mad, and know that even dynamic teachers hear those comments, occasionally into the second year.  By the third year, they can't even remember the former teacher and you are THE one.

Martha Stanley