My first rehearsal was not a complete success. I’m okay with it.
Yes, I teach the online course entitled Choir Crash Course: 1st Days of Choir (and beyond) Prep. I have the perfect plan for the first day but I did not perfectly execute the plan.
Here’s What Happened
In my district, we were given roughly two hours of prep time on 9/1, and the students showed up on 9/2. I spent 9/1 assembling my seats and creating a seating chart. This was my first priority. If my students don’t have assigned seats before they enter the room, I know chaos will ensue.
On 9/2, the first day for students, I had 60 minutes to finish my preparation. My first priority during this time would be creating a first day survey.
I was well-prepared for the first rehearsal with effective guidelines, a plan for behavioral re-direction, and procedures. I had my opening speech ready to go and a handbook (not fully complete) accessible via google classroom. All I needed was those 60 minutes of prep time before my students would enter. I had a checklist of things that I needed to do in that hour to be mentally and physically prepared for my students.
Why didn’t I give up my personal time to prepare my classroom?
It is my belief that we should be amazing teachers while working on the clock. If I’m required to punch in and punch out while receiving a fixed salary, I’m not going to give up my family time. My district, which I love very much, has high expectations and I believe it is my job to exceed their expectations within the time they have allotted. If I’ve been given two hours of prep time in my classroom, that is the time I will utilize. I will not spend additional days or hours; if my district believed more time was necessary, they would schedule this.
My 60 minutes of prep time….what went wrong
For the first time in more than 20 years, I am also teaching middle school. I began my morning in the middle school before heading to the high school. By the time I arrived at the high school. there were no parking spots left. After circling for 10 minutes, I finally gave up and parked in the student parking lot. As I tried to enter the building, I noticed my badge would not scan. This meant I needed to walk around the exterior of the building to the main entrance.
When security let me in, I had to go to the main office where the secretary tried to initialize my badge: this didn’t work. I then walked to my classroom, only to realize that I did not have access. I then returned to the main office to get someone to unlock my classroom. At that moment, I realized I also didn’t have access to the bathroom, which is my ultimate fear.
When I was finally let into my classroom, I had 25 minutes to get 45+ minutes worth of preparation done, but I had just received a new smart board; I had no idea how to work it. Needless to say, I was stressed.
The end result
I could not get everything I needed together for my first class. Some things I did have prepared: I had my seating chart prepared, a message on the smart board, an accessible “do now” survey on google classroom, and access to the choir handbook. I did not have a handbook completed, access to my behavioral redirection form, and a mental plan for the rehearsal. As a result, my opening speech was really poor.
What I successfully accomplished in the first rehearsal:
- Students knew where to sit
- There was a proper greeting with directions on the smart board.
- Students completed a useful survey (listed the preferred first name, pronoun, off period, personal cell phone number, etc.)
- I properly introduced, explained, and positively reinforced the guidelines.
- I properly introduced, explained, and justified the behavioral redirection plan.
- I explained the procedure for dismissal
- We sang with joy
What this means in the long run:
While I was completely off my game and far from my best, I accomplished the 3 most important things:
- students had an assigned seat before they entered the classroom
- students learned the guidelines
- students learned the behavioral re-directions
I did not feel successful. I was completely flustered, stressed, and off my game. What I had going for me was my prep work and years of experience. I also had a long-term goal. What I did on day one could have been better; as a result of my poor performance, I need to fill in the gaps on day two.
On day 2, here are things I need to focus on:
- Starting class on time
- Discussing how to enter the room
- Positively reinforcing the two golden guidelines
- Providing copies of the behavioral redirection form
- Giving “warnings” when needed
- Going over procedures for bathroom and the start of class
- Reminding students about the ending of class and dismissal procedures
My Choir Crash Course, when executed properly, will solve mostly every situation that arises. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. While I felt completely flustered, more than any other year in my career, I would confidently say that I accomplished far more than many previous years. This occurred because my prep work was solid and while my execution was B- level, my A+ plan shined through. On top of that, it was only day one. With my A+ plan, I can execute on the second day what I missed on day one.
We must always remember that we are a work in progress: so are our students. Perfection can be our enemy.
I wish everyone a successful school year. Put one foot in front of the other, build your foundation, and make this year the best one yet!