As a district wide initiative this year Teach Like a Champion has been highlighted in every nook of my professional life at school. One of the biggest activities we have been focusing on is reading the book itself. The book contains 49 techniques collected from champion teachers across the states that create a structured, calm, successful learning environment. We talk about each chapter of the book in our specialist PLC, I have to say that just like all teaching technique books not everything works for a specialist. We work in short teaching increments sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 1 hour. We don’t have time for everything because of the tight schedule our day to day leads us in. I may only be halfway through the book, but I chose 10 techniques out of what I have read that could apply in a music classroom. Next to each technique are explanations and opinions.
No Opt Out – All students must participate. Don’t let them tell you “I don’t wanna”. If we let them tell us “no” now, how are they going to act in the future? No one can give a student the idea that they can get out of anything by just saying “no”. There is always another way to get a student to participate, trick them, coax them, it works. I started out this year with a few students who always told me no and gave me such a fuss, so I let them opt out I let them win. Now, I make a conscious effort to get all of the class up and moving, playing instruments and singing. No one tells me no anymore because they now have the expectation that I will get them to do it. Never let your students tell you no.
Right is Right – When a student hears the word “right” that’s it, there is no more they need to add to an answer. Do not say “right” when the answer is only half of the way there. Unless a student tells you an exact answer in your words like that a whole note is worth four beats, you look for more. Maybe use “I like that Jimmy! But we have a little more to add, a whole note is worth four but four what?” When you hear the correct answer to your original question is when the word “right” is the correct way to answer them. If they just hear the word “right” the students will think they are all the way there and no other thinking needs to be put into the answer.
Without Apology – Don’t apologize when you hear the groans. You have to teach it, you want to teach it, you need to teach it. Never say sorry for having students listen to Mozart, or composing melodies. In they end they’ll appreciate it when your students realize you gave them the best music education possible.
Begin With the End – Every get stuck planning a lesson? Maybe the objective is not clearly in sight. Start with what you want your students to learn, begin with the end goal and move up to the activities, assessments and standards next. Do you want your students to write a melody? make that your goal and build around it.
Post It – I use Evernote to do this. Post it means to post your goals for each lesson somewhere in the room so students can know what they are learning that day. I will write mine in Evernote for each class and will project them on the board. This way I can keep track of all my goals for the quarter so I can double check my curriculum is covered and each class knows what is going to happen every lesson.
The Hook – How do you reel a fish in? A Hook!..How do you reel a student in? A Hook! Maybe they will remember what a quarter note sounds like by the funny voice I make them say it in or maybe they will finally understand melody writing by having a computer in front of them instead of a piece a paper. A hook captures a student’s attention long enough for them to learn what you’re trying to get across.
Circulate – Just like it sounds, circulate around the room. I find myself consciously trying to cut the tether binding me to the front of the room and sit with my students. They might find it scary when all of the sudden I pop up behind them while they’re goofing off. I find it a great classroom management tool and just overall fun to hear them shriek.
Wait Time – As I look back I find that a lot of my teachers never gave me enough time to think and answer a question. We sometimes tend to rush precious learning time for the sake of the overall school day schedule. I only have a small block of time with each class and do rush..A LOT. When I consciously make an effort to slow down and give them time, my students come up with more meaningful answers because I allow time to think!
Cold Call – There is SO much to this but I only use a little bit. Cold call means to call on a student when they are not expecting it. It keeps them on their toes asking constantly keeping their attention at all times and is a great way to review, I can take the last five minutes of class and start asking simple questions right and left. It is kind of fun to blindside them all with review questions. I can also differentiate instruction by scaffolding the questions and asking students to determine their level of understanding.
Vegas – Vegas Baby..or should I say Music Room Baby? Vegas is the concept of putting on the show, constant over the top engagement filled with sparkles, lights, camera, and over the top goofy fun. I tell my students what happens in music class stays in music class but with all the silly stuff we do it’s hard not to share!
Top ten strategies for me in the first half of the book. If I get to finish it before the end of the year I’ll post 10 more but for right now take these, try one out and see what happens. You never know, you could be throwing your arms up in victory like a champion in no time.
We are dreamers, makers, singers and shapers but we will never be champions until we create order out of all the chaos.
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. Jossey Bass 2010