It’s that dreaded time again where we lock children into a room and force them to pretend they’ve learned something during the school year by taking a test that really has no meaning. If they taught us about this aspect of teaching in college we would have dropped out and perfected the art of flipping burgers. Yes friends, it’s time for standardized testing.
So much time is wasted on testing day that I always leave school feeling like the entire day was pointless, so I’ve come up with some things we can do to pass the time when we have no students. Obviously, you won’t be able to do some of these things if you are administering a test (my sincere condolences if you are), but if you’re stuck on hall duty, bathroom duty, or non-testing holding room duty, you can still be productive. Here’s The Top 10 Testing Day Time Killers you can do while not teaching music this week!
1) Score Study – Getting ready for contest? Perhaps learning new music for a late festival or Spring Concert? Why not sit down with colored pencil in hand and mark up your score? Not having enough time to study the score is one of the biggest complaints of music educators.
2) Put Music in Score Order – A few years ago I took about 10 pieces of music from our music library with me to hall duty and placed them in score order. I also took a pad of Post-it Notes with me, wrote down what parts were missing, and stuck it to the front of the box to order later.
3) Design Your Marching Show for Next Year – Have you thought of some drill design ideas? Maybe logistical notes for moving props, or pit equipment? Maybe you’re still trying to get your music selected. Take a notepad and pencil with you and put some of these ideas on paper. You’re much more likely to follow through with them if you write them down!
4) Make Lesson Plans – We all dread making lesson plans. It’s boring, it takes forever, and usually puts us in a bad mood, but it’s required by most school districts. Why not use this time to make them out, then make some money off of them! LessonPlanPro is a new website that’s still in Beta testing, but is currently operational. They specialize in selling lesson plans created for fine arts instruction. The site is very new, and there’s not a lot of content loaded at present, but that doesn’t stop you from creating some awesome plans and putting them up for sale. Definitely a site to keep your eyes on in the coming months.
5) Look for Lesson Plans – Other than LessonPlanPro, there are several ideas for good lesson plans for just about every class imaginable. There are also tons of free resources for rehearsal outlines for popular band literature. Why not use some of your time to find some? If nothing else you might learn how others are approaching teaching the same pieces you’re working on. And of course, you could always steal my lesson plan!
6) Enter Grades – Pretty self-explanatory. Finish grading papers and enter them into the grade book. If you use a web-based gradebook, go ahead and create entries for upcoming assignments, fill in missing grades that kids have made up, and possibly be the first person to turn in mid-term grades! Your principal will love you for this! Ok…at least they won’t hate you as much.
7) Backup Your Files to Cloud Storage – Since I also work doing IT for our district, I see lots of teachers cry when all of their teaching files disappear when their computer crashes. We constantly tell them to back up their files to cloud storage, but so few of them do. It’s really simple and largely free! Check out this post for more details.
8) Update Your Resume – After years of neglecting my resume, I have become a constant resume updater. The first time I updated it took me forever because it was so out of date. Even if you’re not planning on leaving your current job, update it with your latest accomplishments, and remove some of the old outdated stuff like that summer you car-hopped in college. You could also draft a generic cover letter so when you do find a position you want to apply for, you’ll at least have a start.
9) Fill Out Menial Paperwork – Do you have a football schedule for next year yet? Do you know when your contests are? Why not use this opportunity to fill out check requests, bus requests, and any other paperwork that will frustrate you later this year? Even if you can’t turn them in right now, just file them away for later. Get it all done months in advance, and then you don’t have to worry about them anymore.
10) Listen to New Music – Bring a set of headphones and a laptop to your seat outside the bathroom and listen to something more enjoyable than the sounds echoing out of those tiled hallways. Jump on Penders, J.W.Pepper, or SmartMusic and listen to find some new music you may want to purchase for your group.
What do you do to pass the time during standardized testing?
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