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We’ve all been there. At least…. I hope it is not just me! Sometimes, the lesson plan that we want to do is not going to happen. So it is a good idea to have a backup plan. Or two. Or three.
This has happened to me on a few occasions.
There was the time that I showed up at school to find a bunch of fans in my room, and no one could tell me what was going on. (The room flooded, by the way. You can read the lessons I did during that time here.)
There was the time that I went to a meeting twenty minutes before my first class to find out that they were testing in the room next to mine. Which means I could not make noise. And my lesson plan was really, really loud.
I’ve had supplies that didn’t get laminated on time, days that I ended up with extra students and didn’t have enough stuff, days that I found out just beforehand that the counselor needed to spend half of my class talking to kids.
And sometimes, you are sick or tired or just plain cannot make it happen.
And, of course, there are days that my students are just way too crazy for the lesson at hand.
So there will be two main parts to this post: backup ideas for when the lesson doesn’t work out, and what to do so that you do not get in trouble (hopefully) for not following your lesson plan.
Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room
Backup Idea #1: A Game You Know Really Well
Preferably one that does not require a lot of supplies.
And bonus points if the kids have played it before so you don’t have to teach it to them.
This option is great if your class just has way too much energy, or if you don’t have a lot of time to get things together.
Everyone has those singing games that they have done so many times that they no longer need to think very hard about them.
You know what your versions are. Some ideas are:
- Charlie Over the Ocean
- Lucy Locket
- Extra Beat, Take a Seat (tutorial coming soon!)
- Pizza, Pizza Daddy O (My kids think this is the best game ever!)
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Backup Idea #2: Read a Book
Reading a music book is really great if you need the students to calm down. Music books are great, because there are so many of them. There are a ton of extension opportunities that go along with them!
One of my favorite short-notice no-prep ideas is to read through the book straight through once. Read it a second time and make up some movements to go along with it (especially if you read this book—I like to have the kids pretend to play each instrument). After that, I have the students color a picture based on the book.
Super easy. Super simple.
I also leave this for subs quite often.
There are other fancier things that you can do—games, worksheets, lessons, etc.
Here are some of my favorite books. Click on the picture to read the description on Amazon.
Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories
Backup Idea #3: Coloring
One of my favorite lessons is to listen to a song and color.
This is also great for a sub.
Have the students listen to a song. You can pick whatever song you want. Listen once just listening. Listen again, and tell the students to think about what it reminds them of. Give them paper and crayons and let them go to town. Play it a few more times so they don’t forget it.
The older students do better with this, and really enjoy it. For some reason, I didn’t think that all of my students would be so into it, but they were.
You could also do coloring sheets based on songs or units that you are doing. There are a ton of Teachers Pay Teachers stuff for free or cheap.
Backup Idea #4: Watch a Movie
When all else fails, just watch a movie.
I always feel like this is cheating, but it is not.
One more time, watching a movie is not cheating!
Just make sure it has to do with music.
Here are some of my favorite options. Again, click on the link to see the Amazon description.
- Arthur—this episode and this episode are both really great (and musical!)
- Mary Poppins
- Sound of Music
- Pretty much any Disney movie like The Lion King or Moana
Now… what if the principal walks in?
This is always a fear for all teachers. It always cracks me up when I go to trainings and they talk about how you need to be flexible. Because that’s true… but when you get an observation mid-backup lesson, what do you do?
Well, officially, you should always be on lesson plan. Some principals are such sticklers for this that there is nothing I can tell you that will help.
But since we already discussed that that is not always possible… what do you do?
Explain the Situation
Let the admiistrators know that you are not doing what your plan is. Tell them why—don’t make excuses, but they should know that you are not just being lazy (hopefully).
Put in a Sticky Note
If you know ahead of time that you will be changing your lesson, stick a sticky note on top of your lesson plan binder, or add a note to your lesson plan if they are turned in online. This way, they can see that even though you changed your mind, you still had a plan.
The last thing you want is to not have a plan.
You could also shoot an email or tell them if you see them.
I knew I had an observation coming up when I found out that I could not make any noise, so I just told the assistant principal that. If she had walked in, then she would have understood.
Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning
Add a Clause
I ALWAYS add this to the bottom of my lesson plans.
“If the class’ behavior is not good enough, the teacher will differentiate the lesson by …… If students are still having trouble being successful, the teacher will put on a music-related video.”
I also add an extra activity at the end, just in case there’s extra time at the end.
I fill in the dots with whatever my backup plan is… singing game, coloring, etc.
What is your favorite backup plan? Let us know what you do in the comments!