Teaching Music to Neurodiverse Students

If you are like me, you have a wide diversity of students as far as how they think, process, and behave.  The fancy term for this is neurodiversity.  I presented on neurodiversity at The Music Crew virtual conference in July, mainly focusing on autistic students and people with CI.  If you have these students in your music class or have a self-contained music class, this presentation is for you!  

Please note:  I used the term neurodiverse throughout the presentation, but avoided the terms neurodivergent/neurotypical because I was unsure if they were still considered appropriate.  As of this writing, they are still used, so I apologize for any confusion.  

Neurodivergent would refer to people with ADHD, ASD, CI, etc.  

Neurotypical would be people without those divergent thinking patterns.  

I have also learned since recording this that autistic people prefer to use the term "autistic" instead of "people with autism," so please know that if I ever present on this again, I will make those changes!  It's always good to learn and grow!!

Here is a handout to help you if you like taking notes or want to look up the resources mentioned.

I hope this is helpful to you:

Here is the ASD Visual Schedule mentioned in the presentation.

Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!

Tips for Learning Names in the Music Room

One of the biggest challenges for music teachers is to learn the names of all of their students. I have taught anywhere from around 300 to 1,000 students per year. While I LOVE getting to know all of these students, learning their names can be quite a challenge--especially if you are a new to a school. 
 So here are some tips: 

 1. Learning their names is worth it. 

    The first step to learning names is knowing your efforts are worth it.  If we don't take the time to learn their names, why should they take the time to listen to what we have to say? Learning names is part of investing in who they are. 

 2. Have visual reminders. 

    I have popsicle sticks with each students name on it and put them in cups grouped by class. This is an easy way to see their name when you pull a popsicle stick for someone to take a turn during class. Writing out a seating chart with first and last names is also helpful. 

 3. Play name games. 

    There are lots of great name games out there. Some just use their name once, while others use their names with more repetition. If the name is only used once, I say their name over and over in my head trying to memorize it while the rest of the class is singing. 

 4. Say their names as they enter. 

    At the beginning of the school year, I say each child's name as they enter. They know they are supposed to correct me if I get it wrong. I work on pronunciations until I get them the best I can. 

 5. Take a picture. 

    If I am stuck on a student's name, I take a picture of them with their name written on the board behind them, or I have them write it on a piece of paper and hold it in front of them. In fact, I have all second graders write their names and take a picture of them to practice. It's smart to do this on a school device to respect the students' privacy. I do mine on an iPad and then delete pictures as I learn them or make a "learn names" folder of the students I'm still working on. 

 I hope these tips help you have some strategies to learn names. If you are still looking for name games, here's one my upper elementary students enjoy:
Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!