To all of you fellow teachers, especially those of you who teach multiple classes, such as elementary music or physical education: you know those classes that you can’t wait to see. You even go to your doorway and look down the hall expectantly. And then there’s that class that keeps you looking at the clock. Has it only been ten minutes??? With 35 long nearly impossible minutes to go? Then we can relate.
Here in my ninth year at this same inner city elementary school at the southern tip of a forward thinking district, I’ve had so many of those “I-can’t-wait-til-the-end-of-this-class-so-I-can-breathe” classes and yet, truly I had thought this year would be different. I thought that after stating and rehearsing the class policies/rules over and over the first few weeks of school and writing up several children for not adhering to the very basic rules, that I would not let a class get to me. Wrong. So wrong.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I was allowing a few trouble-makers in one or two particular classes to rule over my thoughts and control my day – did they know that’s what they were doing? Finally, one day not too long ago, I was sitting somewhere, was it at my desk? And I decided to do an about face. Discipline notes to the parents were not working and neither were parent phone calls to these particular children. Their behavior was not improving and I was letting these few steal my joy and hinder the learning of the majority of the children in the class.
On the Thursday afternoon before spring break, I sat down at my desk with my class list binder and began making some phone calls. “Hello, Mrs. Smith? This is your child’s music teacher at _________Elementary. Do you have just a minute? I am calling to let you know that your child, ____________, is an EXCELLENT student in my class. It is a pleasure to teach him (or her). Thank you so much for the privilege of teaching your child music. Would you please let your child know that I called so she/he will know I made a “good call” to your home today. May you have a blessed day. Good bye.” After nine calls of that nature and hearing the parent’s heart absolutely melt over the phone, I knew I was on to a good thing. From now until school was out, I would let those challenging classes know that at the end of that day I would be making “good parent phone calls” and writing down the names of those whom I had called so that they would know I knew those children were behaving and trying to learn something in music class and that IT WAS REWARDING TO OBEY THE CLASS RULES!
It’s Monday afternoon and I made nine new phone calls this afternoon to chldren’s parents of one particular class. I heard sighs and thank you’s over the phone. The next time I see this class I look forward to seeing how the children behave who’s parents DIDN’T receive a phone call………yet.
By the way, music learning took place all day today! And my heart was light as I left the building this afternoon – after Zumba class! Hopefully the rest of the school year and continuing this practice all the children in all the classes will choose to learn and have a good time in music! Time will tell.
It would be a pleasure to know what you think, even if you disagree.
Let’s keep in touch!