It's coming up to Christmas break and everyone is on-the-floor-tired but simultaneously proud of all their students have achieved this term. After a raft of concerts, carol services and celebration assemblies we all deserve a couple of weeks off don't we?
And it's easy to have in our minds that we will coast through the first couple of weeks back and then really switch up a gear for exam season. We will then have a small nervous breakdown attempting to get coursework in, be hit with a spring concert, navigate our way through rehearsals for a summer musical, deal with the chaos of summer term with its many random days of trips, off timetable fun and sports day of course, before collapsing into a long golden summer holiday.
Thinking about January already? Not sure what to teach? Have a look at this list of 100 Curriculum Ideas for some inspiration and receive a new resource every week in your inbox!
But somewhere in there we have to consider NEXT YEAR'S curriculum don't we? Maybe you like to pull out the same old schemes year after year and 'make do'? But isn't it true that we need to change things up sometimes? Not only for the students, but also to keep our love of teaching alive. The familiar is great, but it's exciting to teach something new too isn't it?
So what if, instead of leaving planning work until the last few weeks of term when it's hot and we can't really be bothered, you got planned EARLY? Yes, I'm suggesting that the best time to consider the next year is first thing back in the Spring term. And I'll tell you why.
There is simply no rush if you plan early. You will have plenty of time to create flight paths, curriculum pathways, research different KS4 courses and even liaise with other colleagues or schools, if you are a single person department. You will have time to peruse different ideas on TES or TPT and see what others are doing. You will have the luxury of sitting back and considering what you really enjoy teaching, and what these cohorts of students might particularly enjoy learning.
You will not simply be forced to repeat what you have taught for the last 6 years, regardless of cohort, but will really have time to plan skills and knowledge progression through your curriculum.
Have you ever written a scheme of work and then just thought
'And for the assessment, they can perform it in the last lesson. That will do.'
Yes, guilty as charged. But with a little more thought they can be more in depth. Plan in time for peer assessment and time to implement those comments. Consider live or recorded performances and whether you have to do written or verbal feedback. Could you add in quizzes as you go? Could you make your starter activities more engaging with quiz based games such as Kahoot? Think more deeply about how your students in that particular cohort are going to get the best experience.
Who has realised 2 weeks before the end of term that they really want to do a ukulele project in the Autumn, only to realise they don't have ukuleles and have no time to order them, tune them, retune them, retune them, retune them and then finally, retune them before the first class?
Whatever resource it may be, it is easy to leave it to the last minute to organise. By planning in the spring time you have got months to research, order and then organise your resources before they need to be used.
Have you got any idea what your students are learning elsewhere in the school? If you teach primary, you probably link music in to the other subjects with expert ease, but if you teach secondary age, you may have little or no idea what the students are learning in other subjects. Consider how confusing this must be for them! Wouldn't it be better 'joined-up-learning' if curriculums actually had cross-curricular links?
By planning in the spring term you have got time to request a few curriculum outlines from other departments. For instance, find out when history teach slave trade, and link it with the Blues. Or find out when Geography teach the water cycle and write a composition based scheme on programme music or learn to play the Water Music. These are just quick ideas off the top of my head, but there are so many links that can be forged with careful planning.
If you don't get your planning done in the Spring term, ask yourself - when will you do it? The answer is probably
'I'll set a couple of days aside in the summer to come in and do it'
But what if you didn't have to do that? What if you were done and dusted by the end of the summer term, with nothing but 6 weeks of relaxation to look forward to? Wouldn't that be amazing?
And that is absolutely possible. If you get planning from the first day back in January.
So make a New Year's Resolution to get organised next year and get your next year's curriculum planned and written early.
Need some help doing it? I'm running a special challenge to get you started from 6th-10th January. In just 20 minutes a day for 5 days I will show you how to get your curriculum done. Want to join and get this done in the company of other amazing music teachers? Just click here to join the Mighty Music Teachers and keep up to date with the Curriculum Countdown Challenge.