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Don't let "that kid" take the joy out of teaching

"That kid". Most teachers have had or currently have one. A child who seems to take so much more attention, love, and energy than everyone else in the class combined. If you are a music teacher, or another specialist who sees multiple classes is a day, maybe you have a few of them scattered throughout your week.

As a teacher we WANT to help them. We think of countless interventions, talk to their classroom teacher, SPED teachers, counselor, their parents, and maybe even the principle trying to find ways to help that kid succeed in our class. Maybe you feel like you are really consistent, but you are constantly dealing with behavior issues with the same few kids. Or maybe you are trying out new ideas and strategies every few weeks to see if SOMETHING will work. It is exhausting. You lay awake thinking about what you can do different. Maybe you go home and cry. I've been there before.


Don't let "that kid" take the joy out of teaching for you. When we spend all our time focusing on one student, we can often lose sight of the rest of the class.

There are a lot of kids who DO care. So many kids cannot wait to get to music. If I miss the opportunity to make the most of it for THEM, I am doing those kids a huge disservice. 

I know we think, "If I can just get this one kid to do the right thing," then we will be able to get so much more done. 

We've all heard the saying, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." There are kids who are THIRSTING for your attention. They are ready to sing and play and learn with you. Lead them. Inspire them. Invest in them. The others may follow. Or they may not, but I can guarantee that you will no longer feel like a babysitter. You WILL feel like you are making a difference. You will re-find your joy and passion for teaching. Those kids who are ready will be right there with you.

I have found in my own classroom, when I spend all my energy on the challenging kiddos, I am drained. I have nothing left to give. If I invest that energy into the kids who are eager to learn, I am so much happier, and there are actually LESS behavior problems because those kids see everyone else having a great time and they want to be a part of it. If they are slowing you down, have them sit and learn by watching for a bit, but don't waste your class time dealing with it. 

Close your eyes and think about the kids in your class (or classes) who cannot wait to be in your room. 

Repeat after me. "This week, I am going to focus on them for a change". Don't let them fall through the cracks because you are too busy with the kids who aren't ready to learn. Invest in the ones who are.

Then report back and let me know how you feel about it. I feel my happiest teaching when I am thinking about how I spend my energy and focusing on the good!

There's No Place Like Music

Being from Kansas, I originally created this bulletin board set for Kansas Day. It's actually not a bulletin board at all, just the side of one of my file cabinets.

Most all of my kids have seen the Wizard of Oz and they loved these posters and I loved that they had a great music advocacy tie in. 

Find the posters here
"There's No Place Like MUSIC" Advocacy Bulletin Board: Pri

Since then, I've had several other teachers send me pictures of the bulletin boards that they have come up with using this set and they are so creative!

How cool is the detail on this one: 

Below is a picture from my friend, Kendra, who used this set for a door decor contest! I love the rainbow and lyrics she added to the side! 

Then, I had a music teacher ask for student response sheets where they could explain in their own words why there is no place like music. So I came up with these:

You can talk about each character and what they were hoping to get from the wizard. Relate those things to the way that music makes us feel or how music improves our lives. Example – the lion wanted courage because he was always scared of everything. Music makes me feel brave/courageous when____________. I have included several different formats so that you can pick what will work best with your students. 

The first layout simply shows the character and shows the word of what they wanted. Younger students can draw on these pages to show how music makes them feel these ways or you can give your older kids a different prompt (Ex. This song makes me feel brave________ ) and they can write and draw.

On the second and third layouts, the prompt is given along with the character clip art and trait, ex. “Music makes me feel at home when…”. The second layout provides room to draw and/or write (unlined). The third layout provides room for them to write (lined) and a smaller drawing area.

Here are some of the student responses. They are backed with construction paper and hung up in the hallway for everyone to read!

If you have used these sets, I would love to see pictures of your displays! I hope this set has helped my own students to think about and realize all of the amazing benefits of music.

Valentine's Rhythm Boxes


My name is Tina Morgan, and Lindsay invited me to do a guest blog post. This is my 27th year of teaching, and I frequently create new activities to keep everything fun for ME!  My first 7 years, I taught grades K-6.  I then spent 13 years teaching only 5th & 6th graders before transferring to my current school as the violin teacher for grades 2-5.  Four years ago I moved into the general music position and now teach Pre-K-5, so it’s been an adjustment learning to deal with the really young ones!

I thought I would share a fun activity I created for my kindergarten students.

I bought these boxes at the Dollar Tree.  There are 4 designs and I bought 2 of each.  I used them to make a game for my Kindergarten students, who can read 4-beat rhythm patterns using quarter notes and quarter rests.

In a Word document, I created 6 hearts with rhythm patterns on them.  I used clip art from Dancing Crayons to create the rhythm patterns. 

Music Notes and Symbols - Clip Art
I printed the hearts on card stock, cut out the hearts, and then laminated them using my little laminator that I bought from Amazon last summer.  I’m not sure how I’ve lived without it for so long!  The laminator at my school was broken for ages, and the film isn’t as sturdy as the sheets I use in my small machine.  For small jobs, it’s perfect!

Grab these hearts for FREE here.

This year I am lucky – my largest Kindergarten class has only 20 students!  For some classes, I can put the students in pairs to play the game.  Other classes may have a few groups of 3.  Each group has a box containing the rhythm hearts.  The students take turns finding the rhythm pattern that I say and clap, then put the heart in their box.

What are your favorite activities to practice rhythm reading during Valentine's week?