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  • Writer's pictureJanis Aston

Navigating the Murky Waters

Just Rolling Around—Teaching on a Cart

So . . . have they told you there will not be a Music Room? You will have to go to each classroom to teach music. And here's your cart. Or maybe you have to provide your own cart!

Teaching more than the students...

No one will argue that teaching music in the Gen-Ed classroom is ideal. And, even though it's just par for the course of navigating in 2020—It can be done and it can be done well.

Approach this challenge as an opportunity!

What? No way! Are you serious?

Absolutely! I strongly believe that the reason I had such a strong base of support in my school for 30 years was due to the following "Tips." I implemented these when I began teaching. And, yes, I began on a cart. There's a lot more to that story but I'll save it for another day.

By teaching in "their" classroom, you have the unique opportunity to educate your faculty just by demonstrating what you do. Most Gen-Ed teachers have the concept that music, art, PE teachers are just in the building to provide them with a break. It never occurs to them that we have sequential lesson plans based on standards and objectives! It's up to you to show your admin and faculty that music is a viable part of the curriculum.


Be Organized Be Prepared Be a Team Player

Be Organized—Have a PLAN!!

PLAN. Approach the fall of 2020 as you would any other year. Base your lesson plans on your long-range goals, standards, and objectives. The temptation will be to try to "get by" with a bunch of activities until you get back to your own classroom. Avoid that pitfall! It probably won't work and it would reinforce what the teachers thing anyway—music is just a fun class that has no correlation in the curriculum. For more about planning see "Making Lemonade."

SHARE. At the beginning of each week or day, email or hand to each teacher your lesson plan with the clearly-stated objectives, vocabulary words, and activities for that week. Hopefully, through the duration of "Rolling Around Teaching," teachers will learn that you actually teach language arts, science, math, social studies, and even PE. Ask the classroom teachers to have the student's name visible somewhere on their desk.

I know, I know. You're thinking, I'm already displaced, overworked trying to come up with new plans, and now I have to add all this???!! Yes! It will be worth it in the long run!

Be Prepared—What you will need to have on the cart

Part of being organized is having everything you need on your cart. If you do not have a cart, get a child's wagon, rolling crate (you can find both at Walmart), or make your own! Decorate it. Make it fun! Come up with a great name. Be creative!

Use Velcro or Super Glue to attach hooks, pockets, buckets, etc. for whatever you will be needing. In the Elementary Music Teachers Facebook Group, I saw a fabulous rolling cart that a teacher's father had designed using an old cart from Lowes. It was amazing.

Lesson Plan Notebook—A well-organized notebook that contains a concise lesson plan for each grade level,

and rhythm, melody, and vocabulary cards for each grade level that you can quickly pull out and put back will save you time and headaches.

Technology—Try to be as LOW-TECH as possible. Each classroom set-up will be different. You will want to begin your teaching time the minute you enter the room, with music playing, singing, stomping, snapping, clapping, etc. Establish from the first minute that the Music Teacher has ARRIVED!! If you spend lots (or even any) time setting up, you will lose that opportunity to capture the students' attention.

Sound—Bluetooth speaker, Playlist already prepared ahead of time, iPod, phone, or laptop with all of your music. Have everything connected and ready to go!

Laptap, iPad, or tablet—Optional but you might want to organize everything in a Word or Google doc where you have your lesson plan and can just click links for your music. That will take some time setting up but would be nice to have. Up to you, but be sure you have a way to charge all devices! Do not rely on the classroom teacher to have everything set up for you!

Roll BookYou will want class lists for taking notes about student progress and attendance. I always found the best person to give me these was the school office administrator/secretary. Before school starts, ask for an electronic copy (delineated or Excel version) of the students with their classroom assignments. Just pour the names and other info into your spreadsheet and create your own roll book.

Pen, scissors, dry erase markers, stapler, etc.On the cart, be sure you have just basic office supplies.

Be a Team Player

Help the classroom teachers by being organized and prepared. Yes, this is their time to rest and re-group. Use the restroom, get a drink of water. They may need to leave to make a phone call. That's OK.

Movement activities in the Gen-Ed classroom? Absolutely! But you must be creative and respectful of the teacher's space. Students may have been sitting in confined spaces for long periods of time. Be creative! Tell them to stand. Stretch high when they hear high sounds, bend low for low sounds, march, step, dance in place to different styles of music. Let them create their own "moves" to dances that would normally be done with partners or circles. "La Raspa" is a great dance that can be done while standing behind a chair. Leaps and circles for changing sections and phrases. You will have to think outside the box!

Everyone is struggling—government officials, principals, Central Office, classroom teachers, related arts teachers, cafeteria workers and custodians, parents, and the children.

Everyone. So . . .

Be the bright spot in the day.
Be the person who the teachers will look forward to having in their room.
Be confident in your skills and ability to make transitions.
Be flexible.
No matter what, be the teacher you were meant to be. For the children.

You've got this! You can do it!

You are part of a team that is working HARD

To help children learn in a new way.

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