This coming school year, more music teachers are being asked to be mobile during the school day. Some have lost their music rooms. Others will be using a cart so students can stay put in their classrooms. Still others will need to teach ensembles in larger spaces where students can spread out – gyms, auditoriums, outside courtyards. This of course presents new challenges – but they are not insurmountable. With a little planning and the right equipment, you can do it! Here are some commonly shared tips to ease into the change.
1. Get a space for storage and other needs.
Every teacher needs some kind of space to call their own, particularly music teachers. Space is needed to store music and equipment. Teachers also need a place where they can plan, talk with students, or just take a break. Hopefully the administrators have already considered this, but if not, it’ll need to be addressed before the school doors reopen.
2. Communicate with the administration about your schedule.
There are many logistics that need to be considered when teaching on the go. There needs to be enough time between classes to pack up, push a cart from one room to the next, and set up again. There has to be some understanding that you may be delayed by student questions or other factors outside your control. Walking through your schedule with a loaded cart and a face mask can give you an idea of the challenges a long route may present.
3. Communicate with the teachers whose classrooms you’ll be using for your lessons.
It’s helpful to have ground rules set for each room you visit. Factors include the use of equipment and space as well as classroom rules – do you want to incorporate the classroom rules of the other teacher, follow your own, or have a combination of both?
Write an email or letter to each teacher whose classroom you’ll visit to cover these areas. Moving into the space of another professional can be uncomfortable, so sharing a friendly note that recognizes these challenges while also discussing your mutual needs may help.
4. Think about what tools you need to teach safely during this time.
Some schools may frown on using shared instruments or resources unless you have a cleaning plan in place. There may be more of a focus on digital resources and reproducibles. You may need to rely on body percussion to teach rhythm, conduct more demonstrations, and share audio tracks via portable speakers to teach music fundamentals.
Regardless of the tools used, it will be essential that you have a cart that you can use to get around. This way you can easily transport items ranging from a laptop and a keyboard to your very important cup of coffee. Consider options such as a locked drawer for valuables or a power strip.
In addition, you may need other movable items, such as a white board on wheels or a mobile presentation cart. View some options.
5. Organize your supplies by class.
As you go class to class, you don’t want to waste time searching for what you need or realize you are missing something. Most teachers are already masters of organization, and teaching from a cart certainly puts this skill to use.
6. Don’t count on Wi-Fi connections being reliable.
This is a common problem raised by educators teaching from a cart. This past spring, many teachers perfected the art of using virtual resources. That digital knowledge is helpful when on the go. However, awkward moments certainly can strike when you can’t quite get connected to Wi-Fi in certain spaces. While it may help to test your locations in advance, remember that the connection can drop at any time. To avoid problems when you’re on the spot, download resources before setting off to teach. Make a plan for what happens if Wi-Fi fails.
7. Get support from other teachers.
Losing your music room can be a blow, so getting support from other teachers is helpful not only for ideas but also for emotional support. There are so many ways to connect now, from regional support to online social media groups.
Traveling teachers also can take advantage of the opportunity to connect more with the teachers whose classrooms they are visiting. It’s easier to learn from each other when you get to see other educators in action. This may be more important now than ever as everyone in education navigates ways to keep teaching no matter how circumstances change.