Crazy schedule and how to deal?

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    This is my 7th year of teaching. I’m at an urban elementary school where the “specials” schedule is unlike what I’ve seen before. I see certain classes every day for a month, and then there’s a rotation, and I see another group of classes, so on and so forth. The new rotation starts on the first of every month, so the kids I saw in August I will not see again until November. This is definetly not ideal for music, but works well for the art and P.E. teacher. I’m new this year and I’ve already had the schedule changed once (I used to see PK and 2nd grade together, now I teach pre K seperatly, thank goodness), so I don’t want to approach the principal with another change. I’m wondering how I can improve retention with the students after they’ve been without music for so long? I’m worried that I’ll get third grade back and have to spend a week reteaching everything I taught them before. This situation seems bad all around. The kids get tired of their assigned special very quickly and it’s going to be a struggle to put on a program. Luckily, the art and P.E. teacher have agreed to let me work with all of their classes on Fridays when it’s program times and they will supervise. Any help or ideas?



    Most states mandate minimum time for music. To check this out for your state, visit the Arts Education State Policy Database provided by the Arts Education Partnership:

    Here’s what I found:
    Indiana Administrative Code defines arts curriculum at each level with recommended minutes: 511 IAC 6.1-5-2.5 Elementary curriculum and recommended minutes.
    “(m) The following time allocations are recommended for the curriculum listed in subsections (b) through (k):
    Music: Grade Level 1, 2, and 3, Weekly Minimum, 60 minutes
    Music: Grade Level 4, 5, and 6, Weekly Minimum, 90 minutes”
    Indiana Administrative Code, 2010 Edition, Page 12

    You may want to discuss your situation with your district supervisor. Good luck!

    Linda Brown
    NAfME Staff


    Part of what you have to do is to have a very sequenced curriculum that already has the review built into it. Just jumping around will not work with a schedule like this. I follow a Conversational Solfege and First Steps curriculum and it works. It is a slow process but I do make gains.

    Here is my schedule.

    K once every 10 days for 40 mins.
    1,2,3 once every 9 days for 40 mins.
    4,5 once every 7 days for 40 mins.

    When you add in field trips or other things that interrupt class it could easily be a month or before I see a class again. Last year I had one class go 2 ½ months without seeing them due to breaks and snow days. We did our and went ahead. It was slower than the other classes but we made progress.


    I have my Kodaly levels 1 and 2, so I do a very sequenctial curriculum. I’m also doing “First Steps” with Pre K-1st, but 1st will move to the first kodaly songs towards end of the year and will know so mi and quarter and eighth notes by summer (that’s my goal anyway). It’s my 2nd year in this district, first year at this school, and there’s been a ton of memory loss over the summer regarding rhythm syllables, so I’ve been doing lots of echoing and review in that respect. Perhaps the last teacher did not do lots of rhythm reading, I’m not sure. I’m starting my last week in this rotation, and my students are doing great musically! My 2nds are reading mi so and la from the staff and can tell me what song is notated on my staff board just based on the pitches, which is amazing for this early in the year, I think. We’ll see how much they remember when I see them again in December. Programs are going to be very difficult. I think I’ll be teaching the program to my November rotation for speaking parts and such, then maybe meet with them once a week to review. This is just a very stressful schedule but I understand that we only have 3 specials so you have to kind of have a weird schedule.


    Hi Toni,
    There were some solid ideas offered by others. Obviously, you need to work on changing things for next year and it sounds like your Related Arts team is very supportive, thus work together to make those changes. I will address your immediate issue of retention over large breaks of music instruction. I highly recommend posting some podcasts of significant lessons you teach during that month. Student can access them at home to review the wonderful lessons they experienced in your class (send to link home for students and parents to remember, as well as post all on your web site.). Connect the students with web sites that they can playfully continue their learning and review of concepts and experiences. Finally, if the students have created accompaniments for songs learned, recorded them and post on your web site for them to access, play for family members and review for their own enjoyment. You school web site can keep students engaged long after they step out of your classroom.

    Christine Hayes, Chair
    Council for General Music Education

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