One of life’s biggest challenges in the music teaching world is being able to adapt and deliver engaging lessons whilst overcoming those testing hurdles, such as insufficient resources and lack of space.
The outstanding music teacher is someone who seeks the opportunity in these challenges. In fact, outstanding teachers in general, are adaptable, fearless and well prepared.
I've been teaching music at primary schools for over 2 years now, and filling my bag with the right tools has become second nature. Just like the plumber needs his tool box, the music teacher really does need that 'Mary Poppins' bag.
I've come up with a personal list of what I class as vital equipment for the busy on-the-go music teacher. Having the right equipment safeguards you against those hurdles!
1. Flash Cards.
The most efficient way to implement visual learning in your lesson. Create flash cards using words and imagery (as this also caters for EAL pupils) for key musical terms.
2. Lesson Plans
If you are on top of your planning and 'pre planned' your lessons before the academic term, place these in a folder and carry with you at all times. You never know when the dreaded 'O' word might come creeping behind your classroom door, or even a curious teacher who wants to know what their class are learning. This shows that you are a tip-top teacher!
3. Lesson Objective and Success Criteria
All children should have a visual of what they are learning, and it is best practice to have your learning objective and success criteria written on an A4 piece of paper that you can simply blue tack on the wall (blue tac will be something else you need!), just in case the learning environment lacks any form of board.
4. Small percussion instruments
I always carry at least a pair of claves in my bag which I implement in my warm up games and it's always useful to carry a selection of small instruments to whip out should a school have insufficient instruments on site.
5. White board with staves
I always carry approximately 5 white boards with staves on them so you can draw out notation. This is a great idea which supports differentiation in your lessons. Perhaps you have a child who is working beyond expectations and finds reading letter names easy as opposed to notation? Challenge them by writing the correct notation on whiteboards!
6. Memory Stick
My necessity! It's always handy to have all of your material in one simple place. You never know when you might have to lead an impromptu singing assembly or something. Have plenty of songs and power points with the lyrics on, for example. Such a small device can be so useful for performing out of the blue lessons or assemblies!
Always carry your passion around with you! Where children may fall behind academically, creative subjects are their chance to shine. Take a moment to remember how valuable you are as a music specialist. Everybody loves music. It’s the universal language. Always enjoy sharing your passion with the world!
Molly Cale, music teacher and Head of Music at J and C Academy.