As an elementary music teacher, you NEED a summer break. Plan your summer in order to arrive rested, motivated, and ready to go when school resumes.
Summer lesson planning is a valuable tool that will help your school year go much smoother and help you be a more efficient music teacher.
Read on for tips for balancing and maximizing your summer break.
Schedule Time Off
Scheduled at LEAST two weeks off! Off means that you do NOT do any school work. Write these weeks into your calendar and stick to it. Turn off your computer, do not take any classes, do not work on lesson planning, and do not answer emails. Set up your email with an auto-respond message saying when you will be back online.
My favorite times to go on “vacation” are right after school gets out and right before it starts back up. It has always been easier for me to schedule the time after school gets out. Exhaustion just necessitates it. It is harder to schedule time before school starts.
Leave room for flex time in your summer schedule. Every day should not be completely planned out. That is part of the fun. Block in the big items, then enjoy your family and see what develops. Be spontaneous.
Motivating Professional Development
Sign up for at least one workshop or class that you WANT to take. Make sure it is something that will get you excited about teaching again in the fall. Read a music education book that you have been wanting to read. Listen to music ed podcasts. Professional development can take many different forms.
If you have not taken Aileen Miracles Tech for Music Teachers course, I highly recommend it. The COVID pandemic has changed education forever and, technology is here to stay. Aileen has MANY tech tools that you will want to use in your classroom as well as for distance learning or as online enrichment tools.
Create a Monthly Music Lesson Plan Framework
If you have a master lesson plan guide for the year, your detailed lesson plans will be much easier to create. You will be more efficient and effective. A loose monthly plan that spirals through objectives in a logical manner will ensure that you cover curriculum objectives and can still be flexible. Make sure your plan is realistic and allows time to fully teach music concepts.
Analyze Your Music Curriculum and Past Lesson Plans
Reflect on your lesson plans from the past couple years. (The past year is probably not a good indicator of your normal lessons and music curriculum.) What lessons went well in the past? Create a bank of favorite lessons/resources. Then, plug those activities into your monthly lesson plan framework.
What lessons need to be revised? What lessons haven’t gone well in the past? Look for methods, lessons, resources, and activities to teach and reinforce those concepts in a different way. Plug those new lessons and activities into your monthly plans.
Are there objectives in your music curriculum that you did not have time to teach? Plan for ways to be more efficient in class. Take a look at this post with Tips to Talk Less and Teach More Music. Then, look for multitasking songs and music lessons. Almost all songs have more than one concept that may be taught through that song. Repeating the same song with a different focus helps students develop a solid repertoire of songs they can sing independently.
Music Lesson Plans for “Long-Lasting” Learning
Just because you taught a “one and done” lesson that covered a curriculum objective does not mean that students have mastered or learned that concept. Music lessons should be repeated many times. Add a different element or take a different focus to help expand the lesson and keep it fresh. Adding a game, Orff instruments, dynamics, different articulations, etc. allows for repetition that holds students’ interest and cements learning.
A monthly curriculum framework that repeats and spirals through music literacy concepts builds independent music readers, even at the elementary level. Give your students a specific method to “decode” and read music on their own. This post includes 3 Steps for Reading Music and helps to develop musically literate students.
Getting Ready for the Start of a New School Year
Put hard and fast parameters on the time you allow for getting your classroom and lesson plans ready for the opening of school. Your work load can expand exponentially if you allow it to. Strategic summer planning can make the back-to-school rush much more manageable. Work efficiently, do your best, and call it good. Then, take at least a day or two, to relax and enjoy before the school year starts.
As an elementary music teacher, you probably have every student in your school in your music classes. It can be exhausting, but it is so rewarding too. Music, Art, and PE teachers get to see many of their students grow from kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade.
Help your students develop a LOVE of music and prepare them for the next step in their musical education. Give them the desire and tools to continue in music by joining the band, choir, or orchestra. Help your students become life-long musicians.
Plan your summer break so that you are rested, inspired, and ready to start the new year. Then, when school resumes in the fall you can be the best elementary music teacher you can be. Your coming year will be more relaxed and enjoyable. And, your students will enjoy class more and learn more.