I’m heading to TMEA later this week and my substitute teachers are not music teachers. In fact, there are only a handful of “music substitutes” in the area and I think they were booked for TMEA before the first week of school!
What to do? Show videos to every class? I say, no. Videos have their place and a few classes will see video segments, but this isn’t a last minute absence due to illness, so I’m planning ahead. Most of my classes will do three things on Thursday.
First, they’ll play games they already know. I type out detailed instructions for the substitute, but other than facilitating, the students run the show. Naturally, I highlight names of trusted students on each seating chart, leave all props (doggie bones, chickens, etc.) on my desk, and most importantly, include a comfortable starting pitch for each song. Students take turns playing the starting pitch on a xylophone using “ta ta tadi ta” for “1, 2, ready sing.”
Second, every class will also learn a new song during the lesson. That’s right. Whichever song I taught the other students in that grade level that week is included in the lesson. Sometimes there’s a good example in the textbook. However, if the song is not in the textbook or the version is different, I simply record myself singing each song and burn a CD. Need more info? See the next paragraph.
My school computer has Audacity loaded on it. It’s a free, downloadable software and not too hard to figure out. I sing into the microphone 1. straight through the song, 2. singing one phrase at a time with enough beats for the class to echo me, 3. singing two phrases at a time, and 4. singing the whole song again. It’s not perfect, but at least the time is utilized wisely so the students are not quite so far behind the next time I see them. Then I convert the tracks into mp3′s and either load it onto my iPod or burn a CD. These tracks don’t have to performance quality! No one else will hear them except your students and the sub, so go for it!
Finally, every class will have a listening example. This week, a few classes will listen to and move with the DVD Move It! and others will listen to an example on CD.
What do you leave for your classes when you have a planned absence?