For most of us, the end of the school year brings lots of chaos. Whether its filling up final rehearsals, dealing with senioritis, end of the year grades, award assemblies, formals, graduation performance, cleaning-up, or handling inventory, most of us are on the brink of exhaustion. For me, the last week is the absolute busiest week of the entire year due to the fact that I structured my program in a way that has our students working until the very last day of class (and even into the evening on the last day).
As tiring as the end of the year is, it is quite important that we are also preparing for next year at the same time.
Before I end my year, there are things I do that set my program up for success for the following year. Sure, most things can be done just before next school year begins, but there are also things that are best done now.
10 “DO NOWs” to be successful NEXT YEAR
10. Re-visit your handbook
Assuming you have one, it is a great time to read through your policies and see if there is anything missing based on the experiences that are fresh in your mind. Did anything happen that needs to be clarified?
9. Re-evaluate your Guidelines/Rules
It’s a good idea to do this now as you can probably think of new behavioral issues that need to be rectified. Were there unanticipated students behaviors that became unmanageable or new changes in school policies that impacted students in a new way?
An personal example of a policy shift would be how in my school, every student is being given a chromebook. I need to evaluate the rule of what they can/cannot do with their chromebook. Should it be on their seat when the bell rings along with their music folder when class begins?
8. Have all of next year’s officers sign a contract now
Your chosen officers should commit not only to the position they have been given, but the integrity of being a leader. This requires a face-to-face reading of the contract and a signature that they are giving their word to honor their position.
7. Hold an officer meeting for next year’s officers
Next year’s officers should meet this year to initiate the new dynamic of leadership. While they should not address the class this year (this is the role of the current officers), they should be preparing for their roles. Some years I have held a joint meeting between the current officers and next year’s officers, where they give advice and teach certain skills.
I believe the new officers takeover their new roles the minute the last class day ends. In my program, we have a two week summer clinic to prepare for; the first new officer meeting quickly delegates all of their positions into how we are going to run the summer clinic. We set a plan in place and this gives the officers a head start in developing their leadership skills and their authority. By the time the new school year rolls around, they have already developed into confident, well-supported leaders.
6. End your class on a positive and forward-moving note
As you give a send-off message to seniors and a culminating speech for your ensemble, it’s important to direct the ensemble’s attention toward the future of the choral program. Bring light to the next group of seniors who will be filling the shoes of this group; talk about the legacy and traditions that will carry the program forward, and how the graduates are welcomed back to their home for the concerts.
5. Remove all remnants of this year
When leaving the room for the summer, there should be no remaining photos, sheet music, bulletin boards, etc. of the finishing year. Long-standing tradition will always propel a great ensemble, but the previous year’s choir can more often become a barrier that prevents the continuing members from immediately assuming their new roles.
4. Write a list of 3-5 things you would like to do differently next year
If you can’t come up with anything, you haven’t thought hard enough. I’ll get the ball rolling. Here are the things I want to do differently/better:
- I want to keep better track of each student and what sight-singing meters they have successfully accomplished (or not yet mastered)
- I want to get my smart music homework assignments up and running 2 weeks earlier
- I want my officers to create a better agenda for our meetings (which means I need to stay on top of them)
- I want to reinforce body alignment when sitting and pencil checks as a daily habit
Alternative Concert Assignment – for singers who missed the concert
3. Thank your bosses for their continued efforts
It is a good practice to show appreciation for our bosses: Principals, Vice-Principals, Directors, etc. Just as many of our students thank us, our recognition for our administrators is of equal importance. A simple 3-4 line personalize email could have significantly long-term impact, especially when our appreciation becomes a habit.
A thank you should be heartfelt and honest; this is not about sucking up. There is good to find in anyone if we take a step back. I’m very fortunate to have great administrators, but I also think that part of why they are so great is because they know I appreciate them.
Choir Officer Application – how to choose the best choir officers
Introducing: The NEW Choir Election Ballot
2. Write a positive letter of encouragement to yourself
For many of us, we begin each year optimistically but somehow we end the year drained and warn out. It’s helpful to get our warn-out self to search inside for the spark. This spark will help us to end this year with a little bit more energy and it will be special to open our personal letter first thing when the school year begins. Keep it positive, encouraging, welcoming, with some words of advice. The letter can also address some of the pitfalls to avoid (while they are still fresh in your mind).
1. Take a break
Once you leave for the summer, LEAVE FOR THE SUMMER! We all have different amounts of time that we can stay away. I, for example, have a summer clinic that is two weeks long in early August. I make it a point to not set foot in my school for a full month. I do not respond to parent emails or administrative emails for that time (with administration, I do look once a week in case of something pressing since I run a summer program).