Interesting chat last night! Though mainly aimed at current teachers, it really got me thinking!

The topic was: How should teachers approach the first day/week of classes? What are major do’s/don’ts?

I won’t lie, I’m a huge fan of the first day of school, or “Syllabus Day” as it was jokingly referred to. My music classes/ensembles were always the ONLY classes to get to work on the first day! What a way to get motivated!

One particular first day activity that I’m immediately reminded of was for my high school choir. Each year, the first day of choir was exactly the same. My director told us her choir story, and then we wrote a short response to the question, “Why are you here?” and handed it in at the end of class. I found that my answer changed every year! First it started as, “I haven’t sung in choir before but I’m really excited to learn and experience choral music,” and grew to, “I’m here again and again because I love choir, singing, and making music in such a comfortable and rewarding environment.” I’m sure there are always a variety of responses, and I can only imagine that they are so fascinating to read! It immediately told us that our director was interested in us as individuals, and it opened a line of communication right from the beginning.

As for ensembles, if we didn’t play or sing on the first day I was super bummed! Introducing the music by either recording or sight reading (or both!) is a great way to get students excited about the semester’s repertoire! The great thing about music classes and ensembles is that on the first day of school you have an idea about how the rest of the semester is going to work and sound. The creative and performing arts always involve a process, so why not start on Day 1?

There were some first day’s where I wasn’t too excited with the teacher’s approach. As soon as everyone was seated, they gave a rather formal introduction, listing their credentials (where they studied, who they studied under, previous job titles, etc) and pretty much giving a short autobiography of their professional life. What was even more shocking was that this was the SECOND semester when we had already been in the class for a semester!…We knew them! Teaching is NOT about the teacher! It’s about the students and the music!

Some favorite quotes from the night:

  • richardmccreadyPlay something for the kids – show them you’re a musician.
  • DoremiGirl: Students also like hearing YOUR stories of summer/life. Connect with them.
  • shaugland: rules, shmules. They get them everywhere else. If they’re too busy making music, you won’t have any problems.
  • richardmccready: Will they talk about the rules they learned, or the fun they had making music?
Photo credit: http://www.luclatulippe.com/index.php/site/comments/free_twitter_birds/