Gearing up for a new year

It is so nice to lose track of time over the Summer!  As teachers, we all tend to live second to second between the months of August and May, but it really is necessary to take some time to focus on other things.  As I bring my mind around to the task at hand and the upcoming school year, I find myself contemplating our schoolwide discouragement of cell phone and mp3 player use.

If the launch of the iphone has taught us anything, it is that we can never go back to the days of no technology in the world.  We are on a path that will bring the ends of the earth closer and closer by making communication easier and personal communicators ubiquitous.  I  am going to try some things this year that will challenge the norms at my school, and while I do not wish to defy the rules, my gut tells me that some direction change is necessary.

1.  I am going to make myself available to my students after hours by leaving my cell phone logged in to yahoo messenger so that they can text me questions or comments up until 8pm.  Many times students are not motivated to work after school because they think (erroneously) that Teachers put their feet up and do nothing after the bell rings.  I will be there for them to support their learning outside of the classroom.

2.  I will make podcasts of my daily lessons available on my class blog.  No longer will anyone ask “what goes on in band class?”.  Students, Parents, Teachers, and Administrators will be able to call up exactly what transpired in my classroom.  I think it will be the ultimate lesson plan, and allow students to reference what concepts were taught on their own time.

3.  I will make my classes responsible for responding to the question “What did you learn today?” by constructing daily (or weekly) wikis that they will be responsible for filling in.  My lesson plan or concept map will be there and they will log in to edit adding their own knowledge gained from the lesson and from their own research.

These three steps I think are critical in making students accountable for learning.  We can no longer throw information at them and rely on repetition to get it to stick.  Truly, students must begin to study music and not just take band.  Won’t you join me?  I’d love to hear your comments on what you resolve to do in the new school year.

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