You’ve accepted your first job. Then it dawns on you that your training is missing an important part: What do you do to prepare before school starts?
Go to the school district’s website for background information. This will be helpful later on when you meet people and start to know your school.
Get into the building as soon as you can. Your district should have an orientation for new teachers. “Here in New York it is common to have a few days of orientation meetings a couple of weeks before school opens,” says MENC Orchestra Mentor Sue Bechler. “This can include building tours, district tours, meetings with administrators, psych or special-ed services, etc.”
Ask for introductions. You want people to know you because it will make your job easier. Department heads and building administrators are important, but also make friends with the janitor, administrative assistant, and IT coordinator. If there is an in-house mentoring program, contact that person as well.
Take stock of any uniforms and school-owned instruments. If there is a music library, search for past programs—they can give you background information.
Do you have a room? Find out when you can begin working in there. You’ll have bulletin boards to prepare, seating to visualize, and possibly repairs to list. Keep your doors open in case interested students drop by.
Obtain a list of students enrolled for next year from the administrative assistant, and contact them. Find out what they play and what they need. Remind them of any rehearsals and performances that might be on the calendar for this year.
Bookmark and/or pick up a copy of the local newspaper. You’ll want to keep track of articles about festivals and concerts. You might also write an article for the newspaper about who you are and how you can be reached.
If there is a booster group, arrange a meeting. This will give you an opportunity to learn about the community and what they want from the band program.
More in Part 2.
Relevant resource—Getting Started with High School Band
Tips collected from the MENC Band Forum.
—Paul Fergus, August 24, 2011. © National Association for Music Education