Jury duty summons brings moment of panic; practical ideas for the middle school choral director when "guest" teacher is required

by Charlotte Colliver, R&S Chair for Middle School Choirs

colliverCertain words create different feelings. Read each of the following words slowly and see what emotions they create.

1. Back to school
2. Payday
3. Audit
4. Professional Inservice Day
5. Grit
6. Three day weekend
7. Assembly
8. Staff meetingjuryduty

I could keep going, but the words that created a moment of panic for me were included in a yellow mailer telling me to make myself available for “jury duty selection” scheduled for the second week of school.

I don’t mind doing my civic duty. I find sitting on a jury to be quite interesting, but I was in no way ready to turn over my “just hatched” middle school choirs to a guest teacher. I hadn’t even had a chance to go over my “how you should behave when a guest teacher is here” and “it’s not going to be pretty if I get a bad report” speech. Needless to say, the guest teacher and students did just fine.

What I have found is that preparation and organization are key to the success of any program no matter how many years you have been teaching.

My substitute folder contains detailed instructions for running the Clavinova, stereo equipment, musical and non-musical games, class schedule, color coded classroom roster, seating charts, where to find the emergency backpack and student modifications.

If you’re like me, I hate being absent from school because it takes twice as much work to create a detailed lesson plan that will continue student learning.

Here are some resources that may help your guest teacher when you are stuck in the bathroom at home or called for jury selection.

RHYTHM BINGO (available from various sources including this one:

rhythmKids love playing Rhythm Bingo. I have the set by Cheryl Lavender. You can laminate the sheets or use sheet protectors. I give my students expo markers to play. The guest teacher or a student can be the caller.

RHYTHM FLASHCARDS (available from various sources including this one:)
You can get a set of rhythm flashcards with a CD at Music in Motion. I have a set of flashcards only by Denise Gagne. I pull out one card and put it on my forehead. The class then has to clap the rhythm while counting out loud in four four time. If the class claps it accurately, I am able to guess what notes and rests are played. I take it a step further and draw a student’s name from a cup. This student comes up and takes my place. They draw a card and put it on their forehead. The class claps and counts out loud.

Some students answer quickly and accurately. Others struggle. My goal for the year is to celebrate the struggle when learning. What a delight to see a student succeed and their classmates cheer the struggle! Be creative with your questioning to lead them to success. Let the student know that you’ll be with them the whole way and so will the class.

The Incredible Human Machine from National Geographic has a great section on the inner ear and vocal cords. I often use this when teaching vocal pedagogy and vocal care.

Rigoletto - Feature Films for Families – has a wonderful message, lovely music and engaging story line. (Try this link for more information.)

If you haven’t explored Teachers Pay Teachers, you are missing out on a great teacher resource. Check it out. For a couple of bucks, you can have a class set of solfege cards, bulletin board ideas, worksheets. (Try this link for more information.)

The goal of the game I Have, Who Has is for each student to have a card. There are two rhythms on the card. One at a time, each student says, “I have” – then they clap the top rhythm. The same student then says “Who has” – then they have to clap the second rhythm. Students must listen for the “Who has” rhythm because it could be on their card.

I hope that you are able to use at least one of these ideas for your classroom or for a guest teacher.

Best wishes for a rewarding school year. Celebrate the Struggle!

  You may contact Charlotte Colliver HERE