My 10 tips for the busy music teacher to make life a little less hectic.
1. Streamline your week.
On Sunday nights, I make sure I have everything ready to go, and print everything I will need for the week. I find it easier, being in so many schools, to print from home. However, I'm not scrambling to get to the printer with 4 other teachers when I'm at school.
2. The cloud
If you aren't using the cloud to store things yet, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. Link Dropbox to your computer and save your files there. I even save my Lesson Plans. If I'm ever in a pinch, or somewhere with some spare time, I can use my phone or iPad to pull them up and get some work done.
Have I also mentioned how much I LOVE Noteflight.com? With all the band arranging I've done recently, it is very helpful to have access anywhere!
3. Hardware - My faithful USB Key
Even with the cloud, I keep a few things on an emergency USB key to print from. I keep some worksheets, emergency sub plans, and some good back up lessons and worksheets (like some awesome things I've gotten from my TPT friends!). I keep a few extra recorder songs for some of my over achievers, I've I'm ever in a pinch, I've got some stuff ready to go! I haven't used it in over a year, but I move things around regularly.
4. Coffee creamer
I keep coffee creamer at school. If I didn't I'd live at Starbucks. Knowing my one vice, my coffee, not only keeps me awake but helps me stave off the temptation to stop on the way back to the building. If you know you have one thing you can't live with out, keep it at school! Whether it is your coffee cream, a certain kind of pen, or an extra granola bar, it is worth it to have it in a pinch! (My precious traveling space is worth what it takes up!)
5. Carrying as little as possible
I've mentioned that I travel between schools. I also carry any tension I have in my shoulders. This makes lugging around a large book bag a little daunting. Over the years, I've managed to streamline what I carry to make my life easier.
Music - all on my laptop or iPad (I use my personal laptop to make life easier)
Baton - leave it at the school where I use it.
Recorder - I have 2. One for Monday where I use it with 2 schools. I leave this one at home and put it in my book bag on Monday only, and then I have a second at my school where I need it multiple days.
Writing supplies - One day, I looked at my pencil case which had become a pit of school supplies and wondered why and how I started hoarding office supplies. So I've started carrying a multilane (it has 3 colors, AND a PENCIL!!! - coolest thing ever!) While every so often, an extra pencil/highlighter/colored pen creeps its' way into my bag, I've at least eliminated the pencil case, and the extra 30 pens... I have this pen, something hubby got for a work anniversary and "didn't want because he didn't know if he would use it" (MY WIN!) but there are some inexpensive options out there if you tend to loose pens..!
Note Taking - This one is a little harder since I tend to keep paper notes and email them to myself. This year, Ive experimented with having a multi-pocked folder I picked up at Target. I keep one scrap of paper in each section - one for each school, one for board meetings, one for TpT, and one for ideas for school - to make notes for that class/school/meeting. I think I will be doing this one again!
6. The Go-To Lessons
Every so often, a well-meaning classroom teacher destroys my lesson plans by teaching the kids a song or game at recess or circle time. (Mostly, this happens at the Montessori as part of their curriculum). This week, I planned on having my kids learn This Land Is Your Land for their spring picnic concert. Something simple and fun, but you have to spend some time learning the song. Sure enough, the 10 minutes I had planned for weren't needed because the kids not only knew it, but had movements to go with it.
So I did what any other teacher would do, and pulled out the first fun song that popped into my head. Several choruses of Rico's Pizza Restaurant later, all the kids had not only told me what they wanted on their pizza but had practiced singing Sol Mi and giving answers in rhythm.
It can be really helpful to have a few of these songs up your sleeve. I don't teach them separately, but they are great when you are in a pinch!
7. Plot your clothes
This one seems silly, but I find that if I've spent time picking out clothes in the morning I run late. Or I find that I'm in a really uncomfortable pair of pants for sitting on the floor with 3 year olds. When I mentally plot out a few outfits on Sunday, I don't lay them out, but I make sure everything I want is clean, pressed (have I mentioned I LOVE ironing...?), and in the front of my closet so I can find it quickly in the mornings. Not only have I not spent my morning trying on clothes, but I've also made sure I've got on the right clothes for dancing like an octopus.
8. Double Duty Songs and Lessons
I've blogged a little bit about choosing double duty materials. When I choose double duty, I not only pick songs that I would want for multiple concepts, but that can be used for more than one group. Not that it always works out, but it helps me immensely that my 1-2 class as one school is doing the same as my 1-2 class at another.
9. Keeping Track
Back to my thoughts on keeping things in the cloud. I use Evernote for a lot of things. I keep a notebook just for school related things (mostly documentation for students). Because it is accessible everywhere, and usually have some device with me everywhere, I can make note of it anytime and it will get written down where it needs to. I know many places use Google Drive with their school, and I definitely see the benefits, but I've had an easier time keeping my work life, my tpt/blog life and my personal life separate by using different programs for all three!
10. To Do List
Everyone needs a to do list! Check out my new freebie. This has 5 different templates for you to print to make your to do lists pop! I plan on using each one for different activities. (Instead of my scraps of paper!) Check it out here.
First, from my friend Ginny at Ginny's Music Space, her Pizza Instrument Families. Seriously, this is too adorable, and you can never go wrong with pizza!