Planning and Organizing the Music Classroom
It's that time of year again, the month before school starts! Teachers are starting to organize their classrooms and get ready for the new school year. I always set aside some time to do something important: organize my digital files! Having digital files in an easy to use system ends up saving me countless hours throughout the school year.
Recently, while showing other teachers some great resources on my computer I found out most of the teachers were more excited about how I organized my files than the content I was actually showing them! I decided to write a blog post to show how I stay digitally organized (mostly) in the classroom to save valuable planning time.
First Things First: Backup all of your files on Google Drive (or some other cloud service)!!! There are many teachers that still keep all of their documents only on their hard drive or thumb drive. I have seen many teachers lose over a decade of lesson plans, curriculum, etc because their computer hard drive blew or they lost their thumb drive. Saving to the cloud will save a lot of heartache in the future! When I traveled between schools Google Drive was a godsend. I had all of my files on both computers synced to each other so I had my files wherever I went!
1. Create one main folder where you will store all of your materials. I use the “Google Drive” folder as my main folder so all of my content is backed up immediately.
Create folders under the Google Drive folder that you use the most. My main folders are: Lesson Plans, Choir, Lesson Materials, and Media. If you simply start with those folders you will be off to a great start. As you can see I have more folders than that but these are the main ones I use. You can add more folders that are custom to your job whenever you like.
2. Lesson Plans Folder- This is the folder I put all of my lesson plans. I put a zero in front of the folder so it is at the top since this is the folder I use the most. From there I have lesson plans by year, and then by grade. (if you teach secondary you can easily change this to different choir/band/general music classes).
After clicking the specific year folder you will see lesson plans by grade, sub folder, and other courses. Having lessons by year lets me look back and see what I liked from last year so I can simply copy and paste the material I liked to this year's lesson. Then I can add additional material that's fresh and new.
I have a running “google doc” document for each grade. Each page is one week of the school year (I only see my students once a week for 50 mins). These lesson plans are short and to the point so I can quickly glance at them while teaching.
3. Lesson Materials Folder- This is where all curriculum, songs, and worksheets are stored. Within this folder I have folders for each grade level.
Under each “grade level” folder I have the concepts for each grade. When I find or buy a new resource I simply save it to the corresponding concept. When looking for “tika tika” curriculum I simply go to second grade, find the corresponding folder and see all of the resources that I have. This has saved me hours while lesson planning each year!
Below is the "Tika-Ti" folder with curriculum that fits under that category. Whenever I buy TpT resources or create something myself that fits this category, I put it in the folder. If a song fits multiple categories then I save it in multiple folders!
4. Song PDF- Whenever I save a song I also save a copy under the file “Song PDF” so I have an alphabetical list of all of my songs for easy access (located in "Lesson Materials" folder). This helps when your computer randomly shuts down in the middle of class and you quickly need to pull the files back up before you lose the classes’ attention.
5. Choir Folder- Any documents pertaining to choir I put in this folder: vocal warm-ups, practice tracks, choir PDFs, programs, syllabus, etc… Additionally, any year specific documents (student names, grades, etc) I put in their own folder marked by the year. Then I can simply find the syllabus from the prior year and tweak it for the upcoming year!
6. Media- This is where I save all of my videos, pictures, or recordings. They are then divided by year and/or activity to easily organize them. This allows me to use my school’s music Facebook page in a quick and efficient way. Additionally, if a newspaper wants some pictures or I want to submit my choir to the state conference, I can quickly find the appropriate resources.
Organizing videos by concert helps keep all videos organized as well.
I hope this helps you stay digitally organized in your classroom. It can be easy to simply save items to your desktop but in the long run spending those extra few seconds to organize your files will save you hours in the future. Not all of your files will fit into a specific folder and that is ok. The goal is to make a system that works for you and your classroom. If you have any questions feel free to comment below!