It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
Preparing For the End of the School Year
By Audrey Carballo
Ahhh! I close my eyes and can almost hear Andy Williams crooning about kids jingle belling and everyone telling you to “Be of good cheer!” Le sigh . . . Slowly, I open my eyes and realize — ARGH!!!! It’s the end of the SCHOOL YEAR!
No kids are jingle belling and no one is saying any words of good cheer — at all! In fact, your faculty friends and administrators are running around like chickens with their heads cut off holding meetings, filling out forms, reviewing grades, blah, Blah, BLAH.
What does this mean for me, the music teacher? It means that I’m following my carefully crafted timeline for my end of the year concert, any honors or Spring Festivals or other myriad of school closing ceremonies and teacher’s responsibilities.
I know this sounds a bit like “Back to the Future,” but I am going to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Remember during the summer, when you sat down and decided when a good time for your Holiday and Spring concerts would be? Great! Now, we’re back in the first few weeks of this school year. You’ve already given your principal or activities director the dates for those shows — or any other shows/performances/trips you want to take this year. Don’t forget to schedule dress rehearsals because lots of clubs and groups want to use the same space. Scheduling becomes a problem as the days get closer to the holidays and the end of the year.
You were so organized at the end of last school year, you made the copies you needed for the first few weeks of school. Supply lists, letters to parents, Back to School night information — you know the drill by now. Get those papers ready for copies again.
Sidebar: The bulk of students I teach are elementary. The first lessons are the Star Spangled Banner, its history, and what the words mean. There’s an adorable YouTube video that explains each phrase in easy to understand language. My students grade 2-5 loved it.
By now, you should have your end of the year concert rehearsals in full swing. Because you were so smart and kept a copy of last year’s Concert program on Dropbox or another cloud program, bring it back up and update the pertinent information with this year’s musical selections, etc. You don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel.
You should also be doing any preliminary instrument/equipment inventories your school requires. Make a copy of the list and keep it from year to year. If an item is damaged, ask that it either be repaired or taken off the list permanently.
Schedule any piano tunings NOW to be done during the teacher workdays at the beginning of school. You don’t how many times those instruments will be moved around when the custodians are waxing the floors during the summer.
You’re reviewing the budget with your booster club (if you have one) or going over your year end balances with the school treasurer. Have a wish list ready. Some school districts have a ‘use it or lose it’ policy on year end balances. Better it should go to your students rather than in the hands of the school district.
Be prepared for those days during standardized testing when classes are canceled or tests are given during your music class period and you don’t see your students. You need to leave plenty of extra rehearsal time so you’re not still explaining dynamics or tongue, tongue-slur the day before the concert. If you come across as frazzled, the students will be as well. You should know which students are failing and which ones are passing. If you have advanced classes who take EOC (End of Course) exams, prepare yourself for that as well.
Pack up your personal belongings. Many schools are closed for the summer and the only personnel in the building are janitorial staff. They might be moving desks, chairs and other furniture in and out of your room. You want to keep what is yours safe and secure. Either store what belongs to you in a secure location in your room or bring them home. Additionally, I mark all of the teacher’s desks and tables which belong in my room. I learned the hard way that not all furniture is put back where it belongs. Take a piece of paper and scotch tape it to the top of the desk with your name and room number.
Make things easy for the person who collects the keys from you. Have them all in the same key ring with a paper attached with your name on it. I go as far as listing each key on that small piece of paper as well. Turning in my keys at the end of the year is a breeze. More importantly — getting the same keys at the beginning of the year is even better!
If this is your first closing of schools, don’t hesitate to ask for help. If there’s another music teacher at your school, ask them for assistance. If you’re flying solo, check with your District Music supervisor for assistance. That’s why they have the big desk. If you’re an experienced teacher, this is just a walk in the park.
Careful and consistent planning will enable you to be the calm in the midst of the storm.
About the author:
Last fall, Audrey Carballo, a 34-year NAfME member, began her 34th year as a music educator for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system, the fourth largest school system in the country. Her teaching experiences include general music, exploratory music, and chorus to regular and exceptional students in elementary, middle school, high school, and exceptional student settings.
She has been an Assessor for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and currently serves on the National Education Association Member Advisory Board Panel and as the Union Steward and Chairperson of the Educational Excellence School Advisory Board Council at her school. Recently, Audrey was the Children’s Choir Director for the Miami Music Project, which is an El Sistema program spearheaded by the world renowned conductor, James Judd.
One of her most rewarding experiences has been with the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In addition to teaching Broadcast Journalism classes, and giving private lessons in voice, composition, theory and piano, her duties included being the Vocal and Advanced Theory instructor for their Better Chance Music Production Program. Audrey was one of the co-authors of an article published in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness titled, “A New Synthesis of Sound and Tactile Music Code Instruction: Implementation Issues of a Pilot Online Braille Music Curriculum.”
Audrey collaborated with Jin Ho Choi (another instructor at the Lighthouse) for nine months, creating their Braille Music Distance Learning course.
Follow Audrey on Twitter @scarlettfeenix.
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