After a few years of teaching I found, through wonderful PLC's with my Elementary Music colleagues and the advice of other veteran teachers, that advocacy many times is something maybe better done through your actions. Here is how I try to advocate music at my school:
- Be visible.
- Throughout the year I host two major performances (winter and spring concerts) and a number of other small events. I also make sure to feature music events and special Spotlight Performances on the morning announcements.
- Get to know your families.
- It takes time to build a community. I helped open our school 3 years ago and at first, I didn't know anyone. Now that I've been there for a few years, I have gotten to know the parents and their families. Parents are wonderful advocates. When they know you and how much you value their children, they will support your efforts however they can.
- Support PTO
- When you are able to, support your PTO by providing entertainment for their events. This year our winter concert will be at the Barnes and Noble book fair our PTO is hosting. So, instead of having our evening performance in the cafeteria, we will perform at Barnes and Noble. This doesn't take much extra planning on my part and it helps PTO get more families to their event.
- In the past couple of years the art teacher and I have teamed up and done a big celebration of the arts in April. I know that MIOSM is in March but our standardized testing was in March. This year the testing will be in April so we are planning on having our celebration in March. This is a great time of year to host special events, make beautiful displays, and to get teachers and parents involved in the arts.
- Educate your staff
- Your teachers may not have a music background. Sometimes gaining their support is as easy as making a simple connection to their curriculum or giving them a short demonstration of what their kids are actually capable of. Many adults don't realize what great musicians kids are. I like to take the last 5 minutes of class (every once in awhile) to perform something we've been working on for the classroom teachers.
- I also try and give classroom teachers a music experience. Each month our school has team building meetings. This is a chance for a team to host a fun activity for the whole staff. One year our specials team hosted a mosaic mural, another year we did a musical twist on reader's theatre.
I'm always looking for ways to help promote my program, so please share some of the ways you advocate music at your school.