Reply To: First Year Teacher in Urban School District
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First of all assign seating so they are not choosing who to sit by and it will put you in control of that one thing to get started.
Set your rules and post them. Make the list concise and short. For example, Be in your seat when the bell rings. Raise your hand to ask questions. The class room is a no talking zone. Respect other students by not invading their space. Gum chewing not allowed. Whatever you think will work and then their grade has to include evaluation points in it so that daily they loose points if they do not adhere to rules. The rules also need to be stated positively.
You can’t teach them music until they reach a level of discipline where the environment is positive. Compliment them when they are quiet and respectful.
Then start by singing unison with good tone and good vowels. When you identify a few students that can sing well have them sing alone. There is a good article in Teaching Music November about working with individual students to strengthen the group as a whole.
As soon as possible have them perform as this helps them to benefit from their work in class in front of their parents and success will build for more success.
Write again and tell how you are progressing.
NAfME Choral Education Council Chair