Problems with the younger ones

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2004
Problems with the younger ones
5
Thu, 12-10-2009 - 9:41pm
I am a music teacher and this is my first year in this particular job. I teach grades K-4 and was having some major problems. I'm working on so things are getting better in the upper grades but I'm still having a lot of problems with kindergarten and first grade. First of all I have them at the end of the day for 45 minutes and they are tired and just want to go home. They don't listen to my lesson at all and I've tried using quiet signs, echo clapping and stopping the lesson until they are quiet and none of those are working. Also, alot of them play around with each other and talk and think it is their recess time. I've tried our discipline policy and even that isn't working. My job is in serious jeopardy and the principal is really not happy with me. Is there anything else I can do? I've tried to make the lessons fun and engaging but the kids don't even seem to care! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Lilypie
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Fri, 12-11-2009 - 5:47pm

I'm so sorry things are't going well. I'm neither a music nor a kindergarten teacher so I don't have anything useful to recommend. It sounds like you're really trying. What do the classroom teachers recommend?


We do have a music teacher who frequents the board. Maybe she has some ideas. There are some kindergarten teachers that drop by now and then, but I haven't heard from them lately. If they are lurking I hope they can help too.


Sherry

 

Avatar for caraleas
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-1997
Sat, 12-12-2009 - 5:06pm

Okay - it has been five years since I taught elementary general music (I am doing middle school choir and GM now) but I will give it a shot.

First off, is this your first elementary music job? I was hired for my first elementary music job with no experience at that level - I student taught high school, then taught junior high for three years. I had a tough time remembering that the little guys don't even know left from right, let alone make a circle without guidance. I finally started playing music and having them march into the room behind me, making the circle for them..... for transitions, give very simple, one step directions to start with. I swear, it was teaching kindergartners that made me into the control freak I am today.....

My first few weeks in elementary were pretty rough - our textbooks were old and very outdated, and not at all aligned with the music standards. I used them at the beginning, and with the support of a good principal, was able to purchase some CDs that helped motivate the kids. Then I started going to Orff workshops (since I had a nice set of xylophones, glocks, metallophones and non-pitched percussion).

45 minutes for kindergarten at the end of the day is REALLY tough - for anyone! I had 30 minute classes (9 a day) and that was more than enough time. My best advice is to get lots of movement songs and wear them out for the first 15 minutes. You have to have very strict guidelines for movement, and be very consistent with giving time outs to kids who are wild, or not following directions. I just had a desk at the back of the room (the only chair in the place, besides mine) that was a place for them to sit and think about why their behavior wasn't safe, and create a plan for improvement. Do you have a music series? Music K-8 magazine subscription? Any Greg and Steve or Phyllis Weikert materials? Once I discovered songs that the kids really liked, I made a list on the board, with that song or activity at the end of the list - if we got everything accomplished, then they got to do their favorite thing. It is bribery, but it works.

Music K-8 magazine is a wonderful resource - check out their website: http://www.musick-8.com/. They also have a list-serv (a VERY active one) full of helpful teachers (who mostly all subscribe to the mag) that are happy to help with any questions and general moral support. The hard part is hearing about all the great songs and ideas if you don't subscribe to the magazine. The subscription includes 5 issues per year, with CDs, and the music is GREAT - quality arrangements with melodies pitched correctly for young voices, good vocal models on the recordings, and kids love them. CDs have both full performance and accompaniment. You can hear clips on their site. I realize I sound like a commercial, but I still subscribe, even though most of the music is too young for my middle-schoolers, just because I want to have all the volumes in my collection, in case I ever go back to elementary. I pay for it myself so that I can take it with me! If you can afford it, do it. There is a good mix of movement songs (Kangaroo Hop is the best wear-them-out song ever written), recorder and boomwhacker songs, patriotic, great big-band jazz arrangements.....

Anyway - find a favorite, and bribe them. Before I got more materials, we did Bluebird, Bluebird every other class time until I found some new resources. Remember, you have to change activities about every 5 or 6 minutes with the little ones - they just don't have the attention span. Mix up the movement, singing, playing. Make sure everyone can get a turn. Play Parties. Check out Chimes of Dunkirk and Jump Jim Joe for folk dances. Shennanigans (dance recordings/books from Australia) for more dance stuff. John Jacobsen's Hop til You Drop (I think he is cheesy, but works for the little ones). Greg and Steve movement songs (ditto). If you have Orff instruments, join your local chapter and start attending workshops. Take a your Orff Levels courses at the closest university that offers them if you find that the things you learn at the workshops work for you.

Oh, and find kids picture books that relate to music - Sing Sophie, Zin, Zin, Zin a Violin, The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Marsupial Sue, Puff the Magic Dragon. Mole Music. I checked most of these out of my school or public library. Some even came with CDs. If you have instruments, look for Artie Almeida's "Mallet Madness" - she ties music and literature together magnificently. Showing your principal that you are reinforcing reading and math skills is always a good way to get them on your side. Also, for Orff instruments, any resource by Kriske and DeLelles is great.

Do you have any technology resources - projector, Elmo, internet access in your classroom? If your district subscribes to Discovery Education (used to be called United Streaming) and you have a projector to hook up to your computer, there are some of these musical books on their site, along with video clips about instrument families, and other nice things, although the search feature does not always find things if you just search for "music".

If you have any questions, or I can help you with anything, please email me through my profile - I will do what I can!

Christmas,siggy,snow

Avatar for caraleas
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-1997
Sat, 12-12-2009 - 5:10pm
Oops - gave you a bad link for Music K-8 - try this: www.musick8.com
Christmas,siggy,snow

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2004
Sat, 12-12-2009 - 10:03pm
Thank you so much for all your help and suggestions. To answer your questions, it's not my first time teaching elementary music, BUT it has been seven years since I last taught it (I taught band grades 4-8 since then)so I'm definitely out of practice. Also, I have the Making Music series and I also have some Greg and Steve and Raffi. They definitely do like those kinds of things, it's just structuring the lessons that I might need help with. I have tried to do the time outs but I'm having problems because they either don't stay in the time out area or they actually like it.
Thank you for that website suggestion, I will check that out! I'm going to look into those books too, our school has somewhat of a library so maybe they will have some of those things.
Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-05-2006
Sun, 12-13-2009 - 10:05pm

Hi, I claim not to be a musician (my piano teachers through out the year would all laugh if I did)

Photobucket