That is how I start every first class of the year…..which, by the way, means that I will do the same First Day of Music lesson 37 times this next week.
Well, I take that back…..I first let the children know that I’m a psycho and, therefore, have psychotic rules as you will soon find out.
My first Rules Song was to the tune of “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and I sang it to the kids but I wanted to do some sort of Rules Song where they were singing too……not only so they would be involved in the lesson and not JUST SITTING THERE but, also, so they have a better understanding of my psycho rules which means less talk about them later.
I chose the 12 days of Christmas as the tune of the Rules Song because the oldest kids know it and it’s an easy tune for the younger ones. Even if they can’t read, they can still do the first line.
We don’t do the whole song at one time (Yuck….that would be intense). Before each new rule, we discuss what each rule means.
I know they (they being the professional teacher teachers) say that 3-5 rules is all kids can handle but it works for me and my kids. I’m on of those people who is constantly trying to improve what I’m doing so, when this doesn’t work, I’ll try something new. Not all of these are “rules” per se but that are the foundation of our class.
One with the show.
As a “Specialist,” sometimes I don’t get the whole story. We talk about the picture and how the girl with brown hair looks annoyed. A lot of issues can be prevented with a little communication….something may have happened in the previous class, someone may be getting on their nerves…..basically, I can’t help in a situation if I don’t know there even is one or what’s going on. We talk about how my job as their teacher is provide an education in a safe and caring environment and that I hope they can trust me enough to talk to me if they need to.
Again, we talk about how you don’t always have to like everything or everyone. It doesn’t mean you have to happy all the time. I’m not happy all the time BUT I do my best even when I’m not happy. This goes hand in hand with communication and respectfulness.
This is one of my biggies. I tell them I don’t give grades on how well they something. They don’t have to get an A in singing or dancing or playing an instrument. ALL they have to do is try their best. Fortunately, that’s usually not a problem.
We talk about safety physically and emotionally. When you pack 30, 40, 50 kids in a room and do something called “The Silliest Dance Contest,” you’re bound to have some injuries unless you give clear expectations. We talk about “staying on your feet” which I sometimes have to remind the little ones (they just get so excited). “Staying on your feet” became a saying after I got tired of kids thinking break dancing (or faux break dancing) and gymnastics were appropriate dancing moves with that many kids around. We talk about kicking people by accident and getting fingers stepped on. Once I bring it to their attention, it’s less of an issue.
This is more a procedure than a rule. We talk about the appropriate times to ask to go the restroom, what to do if you need to go to the nurse, and how precious teacher time is since I only see them once a week.
Another duh…..we talk about the picture and, even though the police office looks very friendly here, we talk about the consequences if a parent or adult break a law and the compare what happens in the music room when a rule is broken. We talk about how ALL the rules are there to make the music room a great place to play and learn.
This is a psycho teacher rule…I mean, it’s for their benefit too…..because if the room is a disaster, I can’t function. On that note, let me say, something I love about kids is they respect when you tell them you’re not perfect. Them seeing me as not just their teacher and not just an adult but a person who, like them, has flaws and doesn’t always “fit in,” is the best relationship builder I can think of.
Another psycho teacher rule…..the clicking of fingernails on something metal, clicking tongues, snapping, blowing spit bubbles……all those little distractions DRIVE ME BONKERS and I tell them that. It’s not that I’m trying to be mean. I can not function with tones of little sounds because my brain hones in on those sounds rather than what I’m doing or teaching.
So, there you have it. The 12 (yes 12) Rules of Music. Enjoy!