Kindergarten students are honest. They have a love of learning, and enthusiasm for life. I have spent this school year observing them a little bit closer and shifting my instruction so I can offer more choice and voice in the music classroom. I've learned that innovation is a way of thinking. I've learned that a little shift when planning can make a big impact on a lesson.
With that said, another shift I am starting to make is to listen more closely to my students. I need to listen and observe how they respond to a lesson more closely. I need to listen to their interests, worries, and wonders,. This builds relationships which I know is very important in the classroom.
This year Kindergarten has music two times a week. Last year, they came to the music room one time a week. With this new found time, I have had a chance to reevaluate the program and think about what should be added to the curriculum.
Each week students enter the music room and we sit down together. I start by singing a child's name and everyone sings back to each classmate. I do this so my students feel comfortable using their singing voice in the music room. I do this so everyone feels welcome.
I started to notice that students were singing with me when I introduced classmates. So, I stopped singing one day and said, "I notice some of you are singing when I introduce your classmates. Would anyone want to be the teacher and introduce your classmates instead?" Their faces lit up. I was on to something. I chose a classmate and the student took over my job and sang everyone's name around the circle. It was a simple shift but now students feel a little more empowered. (I also gained an embedded assessment into each lesson).
This year the kindergarten students will have the opportunity to invite their families to visit the music room for a program. A few weeks ago I sat back down with my students and asked them what we wanted to do at this program. We brainstormed activities we have done in music classroom Their ideas were awesome.
As I started to put the list away, one student said, "Can we vote on what we end up doing?" Another said, " How will we know what to do first and second? " I told them we can figure it all out together. I will do my best this winter and spring to take some risks, empower my Kindergarteners to share their learning and to listen as closely as possible.