Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Star Musicians Classroom Expectations

During student teaching, I developed these 5 basic classroom expectations:

1. Enter and leave quickly and quietly
2. Show respect to others and the instruments
3. Participate in class activities
4. Raise your hand to speak
5. Follow directions

I wrote them on a poster board and taped them to the wall. I quickly learned that these rules did not mean anything if there were no consequences to accompany the rules. Also, the rules meant nothing to the younger students who could not read. So, I knew I had to revise my discipline system.

 First, I wanted something visually appealing with picture clues to help the young ones understand the rules. Each rule is printed on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of cardstock and laminated. I found a pack of 30 gold die cut stars at the Dollar Store for $1.00! I laminated them and put some magnetic tape on the back. I placed one gold star next to each rule. If the class is not following one of the rules, the magnetic star is taken away. I decided to call it STAR MUSICIANS!

Star Musicians System

On day 1, I try to talk as little as possible and get right into music-making, but you must go over your procedures and expectations. Instead of boring them with a lecture, I pick students to look at each poster and tell the class what they think we should do in music class. The picture clues are especially helpful for the younger students who cannot read yet.

Each class starts with 5 stars, but if anyone is not following one of the rules, the entire class loses a star. At the end of each class, I record how many stars remain on the board. At the end of each month, I would reward one class in each grade that received the most stars. They would become star musicians for the month and get to hang a door hanger plaque on the flag pool outside their classroom door.

Individual Discipline Records

Each student receives a conduct grade for music class in addition to their music grade assessing core content. To keep track of conduct, I make notations in the grade book anytime a student is not following one of the expectations. I mentally number the rules 1-5 in the order they appear hanging on my board. If a student is repeatedly forgetting to raise their hand before speaking, I would mark X4 next to their name for that day. That is a short-hand that tells me they were not following rule number 4. If there is a major violation (such as hitting another student or cursing at the teacher, I make a special note on the bottom of the page in the white space). This way, I have an accurate record for each student. It makes it easy to do report cards each quarter and it also protects me if a parent questions the grade their child received. 

Communicating With Classroom Teachers

In this picture, you can see the rules next to the magnetic stars. To the left of my classroom rules you will see a rainbow chart for our school-wide discipline system. This system was newly-established this year. As a special area teacher, I LOVE having the entire school on the same discipline system. Also, this system is both positive and negative. Each student has a clothespin and starts the day on green (Ready To Learn). Throughout the day as they make good choices or bad choices, they may clip up or clip down. I love the fact that they can clip up! Often a student would come to me for music class in a defiant mood and wouldn't even try to behave for me because they were already on red or didn't have any more sticks to pull. With this system, no matter what choices you make, you always have a chance to redeem yourself with good choices. We do have a rule that in special areas they can only clip up or down one time. 

Obviously, the students' clothespins cannot travel with them to special area classes. So, we have a miniature rainbow chart (shown above) to remind the students of the color order. If the students clip up or clip down in my class, they write their name on the small clipboard. There is a smiley face and sad face to help the students who cannot read. In my class, the students write their own name on the clipboard. That walk to the clipboard is a nice reward for those who are going to clip up and makes those clipping down more responsible for their actions. Plus, I can continue teaching while they are writing their name on the clipboard. The issue of honesty has come up on a few occasions where someone has written their name on the wrong side or pretended to write it. With cases of dishonesty, the student will automatically clip down twice. This new rule has eliminated most dishonesty. At the end of class, I take the paper off the clipboard. The clip downs become X's (with the corresponding numbers for the expectations they did not meet). If a student clips up, I place a star next to their name for that day. This gives them bonus points to bump their grade up to exceptional. the paper is then handed to the classroom teacher when it is time to leave and the students will move their clothespins when they get back to their classroom.

Free Downloads

Coda: Art???

Do you have an art teacher at your school? New this year, my principal asked me to teach art one week of the month during the music time. I have a separate classroom for art class, so I just modified my music expectations slightly. If you would like these for your art teacher, they are also available to download!


  1. Love this idea. I am starting at a brand new school next year so it is a fresh start for me, as well as behavior and expectations. I love the idea of the posters being visual for the non-readers (especially important for those of us who teach the Kindies). Thanks for sharing! What a nice idea!

  2. I'm glad you like it. I hope you find it useful next year.

  3. I absolutely love your blog and all of your wonderful ideas. I am going to pitch your school-wide discipline system to my principal, but I do have a couple of questions. As the students clip up from "Ready to Learn", are they rewarded. And, when they clip down to "Teacher's Choice", what happens?

  4. If they clip up "off the chart" they may get special rewards like sticker or plastic jewels to place on their clothes pin. The teacher may wear their clothes pin on their collar or in their hair, or something else funny. They may get to move their clothes pin to another place in the room (clip it onto another poster, book, fish tank, or whatever).
    After a certain number of "off the charts" they get to select a purple prize. A few examples include: 1. eat lunch with a friend of your choice, 2. bring your favorite stuffed animal with you all day, 3. no shoes for a day (this is very popular, 4. wear a hat day, 5. line jumper for a day (can jump any place in line). There are many more.
    Since I'm not a classroom teacher, I'm not sure about the logistics. This discipline system also came from a book. Let me send some emails and get back to you with some specific resources that can help you.

  5. Try this link. It seems to be the same system.

    Also, you may not teach in Kentucky, but this site may help you if your school is interested in positive behavior management.

  6. What a positive and helpful site. Thanks.

  7. What an awesome blog! This is my first year teaching Kindergarten Music and I am getting a lot of great ideas from you. Just to clarify your track of conduct method, do you just use a class list to mark your x on or did you make your own word document. If you made your own word document would you mind posting it or emailing it?
    Thank you! :)

  8. I print blank spreadsheets from our attendance/grading system called "Infinite Campus". I put the date at the top of each column and mark an X with the number of rule they did not follow. I put stars if they were exceptional and got to clip up.

  9. A most helpful blog. Congratulations! I'll definitely be visiting it very often. Thanks a Lot.

  10. Is there somewhere I can print a copy of your rules?? I love them