If you’re the type to make New Year’s resolutions, you’ve probably already promised yourself you’d eat more veggies, drink more water, or hit the gym a few times a week. But, if you’re a music educator, why not make some resolutions for the classroom and your career? After all, a new year usually means a new semester, and the opportunity to start fresh by teaching a new class or bringing rejuvenation to your students after the holiday break. From stressing less to connecting with other educators, here are a few New Year’s resolutions every music educator should consider adding to their list in 2017.
Try a New Approach in Class
As a teacher, it’s easy to get stuck in the same day-to-day routine. After all, if it works why bother changing it? Want the honest answer? Because your students can get bored. Each year, seek out an approach you’ve never used before and see if you can add it to your routine. Playing at all ages can increase creativity, so always keep a game or two in your back pocket. As spring begins to rear its head, your students will be itching to spend some time outside, so if you work in an environment where outdoor games are possible, give one a shot. The resolution to “try something new” can extend to the rest of your professional life- try learning a new instrument, join a club, or make plans to visit a tradeshow or speak at a professional engagement.
Connect with Other Educators
If you don’t already have a social circle that’s made up of fellow educators, make an effort to change this. Although connecting with other music educators makes sense, they shouldn’t be the only ones you network with. Is there a new gym teacher at your school? Connect with them in the break room, and see if you can incorporate some of their strategies into your own classroom. Have you always been curious about how the science teacher deals with difficult students? Invite them out for coffee and get some insight. If your school doesn’t already have some sort of social club for teachers, consider creating one. Wine and cheese nights on Tuesdays? Catered lunches on Thursdays? You can learn a lot from other educators, and they can probably learn a thing or two from you, too.
Protect Your Passion
As an educator, your most valuable asset is your love of music and your instrument. After all, if you didn’t love music would you really be teaching it? This year, resolve to take steps to protect that passion. Whether it’s finding opportunities to perform, attending local concerts, taking lessons of your own, or making an effort to listen to your favorite composers, do whatever you can to stay in love with music. Unless you perform on the side, chances are you don’t spend much time actually playing your instrument yourself. Set aside time each week to sit down and play your instrument, even if it’s just rattling through some scales or figuring out how to play something by ear. Better yet, get some friends involved and form your own band or practice group.
Get to Know Your Students
The best educators, music and otherwise, are ones who make a lasting impression on their students. One way to do this is by getting to know them on a personal level. Attend school basketball games, and be sure to show your face at non-music school functions. Use holidays and cultural events as an excuse to get to know your students. For example, in the weeks leading up to Christmas and other religious holidays, ask your students to share their own family’s traditions and celebrations. Not only will it allow you to get closer to your students, but it’ll open up the floor for discussions about other cultures. And, in today’s day and age, having an accepting and open classroom is as important as ever.
As a music educator, it’s easy to stress out, especially during the holiday season and as the school year draws to a close. Instead of bottling up your stress until it gets to the point where you take it out on your students, make an effort to control your stress in productive ways. Get a massage, head to a movie, or meet up with friends for happy hour- do whatever helps you unwind and relax. If your students seem especially stressed out, invite them to meditate or practice yoga with you at the beginning of each class session. As soon as stress is removed from the mix, you may be surprised about how much actually gets accomplished in the classroom.
Bonus resolution: attend a tradeshow! Learn more about their benefits here.