Wrapping up the year for a band director is very different from most other classroom teachers. For most teachers, they finish their curriculum with their current students, tidy things up, and then send them on to another. For band directors, how we end the year often directly impacts how the following year starts for us and our students. Now, don't fret, I'm not trying to close down the school year in April. For most of us we still have the Spring Concert and final scale exams; not to mention collecting music, sorting music, collecting instruments, doing inventory, and assigning summer instruments. Most high school directors have leadership elections, marching band shows to pick, and summer camps to set up for their students. So, the year isn't close to over yet, but if you're not thinking about what the end is going to look like and how it will set you up for next year, then now is the time to start having those thoughts.
Here's a partial list of things directors should think about to facilitate one year smoothly closing into the beginning of the next:
Band Parents and Volunteers
Regardless of your intentions for next year; staying at your school, moving on - voluntarily or not, one must remember that there are children at the end of almost every decision. If you are happy as a clam and know you will be returning, just look ahead and do what you can for yourself and your students so everyone can be relaxed over the summer and excited when things crank up again in August. If you are leaving because you won the lottery, are taking a different assignment, or have just decided it's time to move on, try to remember what your grandmother always told you, "Always leave some place better than you found it." If you are voluntarily moving on, think about when the best time is to tell your principal, students, and band parents. I would suggest telling stakeholders in that order. Even if it is your decision to leave, telling your boss can turn a pretty nice situation awkward pretty fast. Be as positive and as honest as you can when you tell your principal you are leaving and tell your principal when and how you intend on telling your students and band parents. Be advised, there may be some negotiating over this point.
If you are not leaving your current position voluntarily, the situation may be a little more complicated, but all of the above applies. If for one or a variety of reasons your principal decided you were not a good fit in your current post, that is exactly what that means – you and that position were not a good fit. It does not mean that you will never work again or that you are not a good teacher. It means that it is time for you to move on and ultimately it will be best for everyone involved. As satisfying as the fantasy may be, storming out of your boss's office to the band room and yelling to the little darlings, "I'm glad to be gone and you can tell your parents the same," is really not the best way to move on. It could be the case that you have had 120 consecutive, miserable workdays, but I would venture to say there are at least a few good students and a few positive moments that you have shared. I understand the urge to "get even" or "show them," but you must remember that YOU are the professional and how you choose to move on is a statement about YOU and WHO YOU ARE. Remember there are children at the end of every decision you make, and your reputation follows you. It doesn't remain at the school you leave. Even if you don't think your principal, students, band parents, or supervisor deserve it, take the high road for yourself and those students who you connected with this year, and who are going to be sad to see you go.
It is not possible to list everything that needs to be done to have a smooth year's end that will set up next year's smooth beginning. By the same token, it's not possible to approach every scenario for ending the school year when you are leaving a position. Hopefully this post has given you some things to think about and some good jumping off points for conversations with your mentors.
This article was submitted by Karen Crocco, DMA
Band Director, Santaluces High School
FBA Mentoring Committee Chairperson