Rethinking My Approach, Part 3: Documenting Rehearsals

In another post, I wrote about how one of my schools performed a particularly poor Winter Concert. That experience has forced me to reflect on my teaching techniques and rethink some of my basic approaches to working with those students. In previous posts, I shared some thoughts about how I’ll address classroom management and rhythm and pulse. In this post, I’ll write about documenting rehearsals.

j04393821One odd aspect of teaching at multiple schools is that sometimes students’ progress at one school may not follow progress at another school. One school may have mastered a particular piece or musical concept, while another might be struggling on the same music. One school may have sightread a piece or been introduced to an unfamiliar musical issue while another hasn’t, for whatever reason. I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes it’s not until making final concert selection decisions that I realize one school is behind my others in their mastery of a certain piece.

I think my lesson planning not necessarily the problem; I’m pretty good about planning what concepts need to be learned and what music needs to be rehearsed. What’s probably not so good is my documenting of what actually was learned or rehearsed. It’s quite possible that an ensemble rehearsed a section of music while half the group was gone on a field trip, or while the players who need the most practice were absent, and it wasn’t until two weeks later that I realized there are major problems.

If you teach at one school and can’t relate to this post, I apologize. If, however, you travel to different schools like I do, and you have an inkling what I’m talking about, please comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking My Approach, Part 3: Documenting Rehearsals

  1. I have to say, I love reading your blog. You are so *honest*. No fluff. The real down-and-dirty, in exposing what you are doing.

    I currently teach at mostly 1 building (I pick up 5 lessons in another school, but do not direct the band there), but for the first 9 years that I taught, I was hopping between 2 or 3 schools. I totally sympathize with you.

  2. I teach at 9 different schools. After my first year of teaching at 9 schools, I thought, “If I only had my worst school, I would want to quit, and if I only had my best school, I would think that I was a band teaching genius.” But I am the same teacher, teaching at fairly comparable schools, and I am getting vastly different results.

    I am also bad at keeping track of what was actually accomplished and who accomplished it. At one school this past 4 or 5 weeks, we have been interrupted by an assembly one week, a water damaged classroom that was forced to use the music room, forcing band to be in the MP, except for when it was raining and PE needed it, which was followed by another assembly and now there are some field trip conflicts. (That was an intentional run on sentence, for anyone who is also teaching English.)

    I have not written down who was there for what, or what instruction they received. I’ll wait and ask before I teach them, “Did I go over page 18 already with you?”

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