Whether you’re remotely returning to an established program or stepping into your virtual classroom for the first time, start off on the right foot with these 9 tips for the first few weeks of school:
- Learn your students’ names. Consider greeting each student as they show up on your zoom calls. Ensure that each student has their username on full display so they can get to know each other’s names as well. Students will be responsive and respectful when addressed by name.
- Jump into an icebreaker. It may be more of a challenge this year to get acquainted, and to have those light-hearted moments during class, but no less important.
- Establish the rules. Especially in a digital landscape, a new set of rules and code of conduct will need to be clearly communicated. For example, “Welcome to class! We will always start on time. Please, no chewing gum or eating while on Zoom, try to minimize distractions, and raise your hand to unmute for questions or clarifications. I expect you to have a pencil and paper with you at all times to take notes, and to always be respectful of each other.”
- Add music theory, history, sight reading, and rhythm to your curriculum. This
will raise student interest and provide both the context and background
for them to gain a deeper understanding of the music they are learning.
Focusing on individual skills will also especially benefit students
now, as they won’t safely be able to practice in an ensemble setting.
Interested in building custom sight-reading exercises for your students?
- Schedule everything you can. Teachers, parents, and students are juggling more than ever. Take the time to put together a master calendar of all class sessions, key assignment due dates, and other virtual activities or events for the semester (that you are aware of), and then share it with everyone who needs to know.
- Communicate with parents. Obtain students’ and parents’ email addresses and telephone numbers. Organize the email addresses in a folder on your computer so that you can immediately and effectively communicate details about your program.
- Set up a substitute book. Absences are bound to occur during the school year. Having documents prepared for a substitute will give you peace of mind and the knowledge that your sub has been provided with lesson plans that they can easily implement.
- Reflect. Take some time at the end of the first week (or every week) to review each class/group, assess their progress, and affirm that you are heading in the right direction. Connect with other teachers online to share ideas, insights, and encouragement.
- Remember that no one is perfect. Remote instruction is new for most teachers and students, and everyone has days when things don’t go according to plan, and that’s okay! Learn from those mistakes and continue to believe in yourself and your students. Celebrate the small victories along the way, and have a great school year.