The building blocks of a great year.

Old bellIn many ways, the first few days of school, a time typically wrought with excitement, stress, and extra work for classrooms teachers is different for me.   Having spent the last few weeks and much of the summer  at home with my 10 year old girl and 7 year old boy, I can honestly say that school allows me to breathe a sigh of relief.  A structure, an organized classroom, kids that listen (!)…..what a contrast to an ever evolving family life.  Plus, I have the added bonus of not having to get a whole class in the swing of things from the start.  I have 35 minutes twice a week with 18 classes…..a slow cultural evolution instead of the firing of the starting gun.

Now it’s time to see the kids!  The first day of our six day cycle at Symonds School (I can explain more about this later) begins with all-school assembly.  As the music teacher, I am the first voice our 350 kids hear in the ’14-15 school year.  As a musician, I rely heavily on my ability to improvise so while I plan classes, pre-choose songs for assembly, and generally function knowing what I am going to do next, it would probably surprise folks to know how often I simply change my mind  in the moment.  I do this because I CAN.   I have a song repertoire and the ability to wax poetic in front of large crowds, sometimes to a fault.  Stage (and in front of classroom) presence is like jazz to me; stick with a familiar structure but be ready for anything.  So when I feel that the school needs a body movement energizer when I planned a wordy song, I switch in the moment.  In this case I planned on the old familiar “Awake, Alert, Alive” as the kids’ (and staff’s) first activity of the school year.  Using hand motions to the melody of “If you’re happy and you know it”:

I’m Awake, Alert, Alive, Enthusiastic
I’m Awake, Alert, Alive, Enthusiastic
I’m Awake, Alert, Alive
Alive, Alert, Awake
I’m Awake, Alert, Alive, Enthusiastic

Directions:  Awake– point to your eyes/  Alert– point to the top of your head/  Alive– Hug yourself/  EnTHUS –pat thighs iAS– clap / TIC — snap twice


After a quick talk and ritual ring of the bell (the original bell from a former building, pictured above)  on the “Four Pillars” of Symonds (Kindness, Effort, Community, and Knowledge) by our fearless principal, Mr. Cate we ended with a rocking nursery rhyme song called Hump tee dum.

So then I ready myself for 1st and 2nd graders.  Stay tuned for the skinny on that.

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