Scheduling Issue – Repeating Students
January 11, 2013 at 7:56 am #18460
I teach 6-8. Right now, the way my classes are set up, I see the kids for nine weeks at a time, then they rotate to a different set of arts classes. This year I do not have a dedicated volunteer chorus class, just this 9 week rotation that all kids go through no matter what. Given the numbers, I expected to have a few kids end up being in my class twice, but I wasn’t expecting it until the last quarter. Just got my schedule for third quarter and I have two classes where almost half the class has already taken the course!
I’m not sure what to do. This is a brand new program and I don’t have many resources. I scraped together enough music for a 9 week course but I won’t be getting anything new until fourth quarter. I also have a set of lessons that I want all the students to have as a foundation, but when half the class has already learned it… I’m a little nervous, honestly. Especially since one of the classes that is half repeaters has some students with whom I struggled earlier in the year.
Has anyone been in this situation before? What did you do?January 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm #18475
I live in this world most of the time! I teach in an afterschool program and in each choir we have everything from honors students who sight-read fluently to kids who have never heard of solfège. Why not take advantage of the gap by asking returning students to partner with a new student and help them learn a concept? Do this for just a few minutes each day, to avoid the new kids getting frustrated. And don’t be afraid to repeat a piece or two. Kids love being surprised with something familiar, especially if you introduce it in a different way – break it into small chunks on rhythm syllables or solfège, and gradually build it up into a song until someone goes, “Hey! I remember this!”
Don’t be afraid of repetition. It may not seem like it, but middle schoolers thrive on “traditions” – warmup routines, signature pieces, etc. Even little things help build a sense of community, as long as they are also building a healthy sound!January 14, 2013 at 9:54 am #18507
I think the previous responder has great suggestions, especially in using returnees to help instruct. I am reminded of Einstein’s quote, something to the effect that, “You don’t really understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.” You might start the class with the expectation that you plan to concentrate on certain concepts this quarter (tone, flexibility, music of other cultures, poetry in song, whatever) and you are so delighted that the returnees will help you delve deeper this time. You might, however, need to find something special for the returnees, perhaps borrowing music for a piece they can do themselves, or pursuing some project they can do as a team.
Anna Hamre, DMA
Member, NAfME Choral CouncilFebruary 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm #20091
Do you have friends or peers in other schools or districts that would be willing to lend or exchange music and resources? I know in my area we have helped each other out that way quite often. Of course, we all have to keep a tight reign on how the music and materials are treated and how many copies go back and forth.
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