Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Music on Wheels: The School is Your Classroom

As a teacher on a cart, it can be hard to do all of the folk dances, play parties, and movement activities that are crucial components of a music curriculum. I recently guest posted on the TpT Music Crew Blog about some fun, new ways to incorporate movement into the music room. But how can we manage to do all that when we don't have a nice open music classroom? I think the solution to this problem requires a slight change of perspective: instead of thinking that you don't have a classroom, think of the entire school as your classroom!

The School is Your Classroom

I am in the middle of preparing sixteenth notes with my third graders and we've been gradually learning more and more moves to the song "Old Brass Wagon." Today I wanted to teach them "promenade," which for this song would involve them crossing hands with a partner and then walking in a big circle.

I walked into their classroom and saw the teacher had rearranged all of their desks into rows for an upcoming math assessment. I sighed and momentarily considered ditching my plans to do that dance and considered teaching something else instead. However, after collecting my thoughts and thinking about how important it is that they get this movement experience, I got to work. The kids and their teacher were at lunch, so it was just me in the room. I moved all 20-something desks over to one side of the classroom so that we would have enough space. Was it a pain in the rear? Yes. Do I regret it? Not at all. 

Of course, with more advanced notice I could have recruited some student volunteers to move the desks over and help me adapt the space to suit my needs. However, I made a decision to do the dance today no matter what. 

It can be so easy to get discouraged when teaching on a cart situation because it feels like you have nowhere to go. Instead, I've learned to change my perspective and realize that I can go wherever I think will best meet my students' needs! When we are dancing in a longways set, we go make our two rows in the hallway! When we need to make a big circle, we do it wherever we will fit. A few Halloweens ago, I had a class of fifth graders learning the Thriller Dance in the middle of the library because it was the best space available at the time. 

Today, when one of the third graders walked into the room and saw that I had moved all of their desks to the side, she looked at me suspiciously. "Mrs. Tanenblatt," she asked, "did you get permission from our teacher to move the desks?" All I said to her was, "I'm a teacher at this school, too. I don't need permission." 

Of course, I have developed a good enough rapport with most of my colleagues at this school that I know I don't need to ask permission for that kind of thing. It's safe for me to just go ahead and do it and "beg forgiveness" later if I messed up where desks or chairs were supposed to go. I strongly recommend making sure you've had conversations with your colleagues about your intentions if you're going to start teaching in random places and rearranging furniture. I've found that a simple "heads up" email is usually more than enough to make it clear that you have a job to do and will need to make some adjustments to the space in order to do it.

What's the most "creative" place in the school you have taught? 

1 comment:

  1. I too have danced in the hallway, moved all the desks, had a drum circle on the patio, bucket drummed in the picnic shelter, used the cafeteria, stage, just about anywhere!