For a number of years, I’ve taken the curriculum planning and classroom administration method of backward planning and modified it to a pedagogical method for percussion college students in grades 6 by way of 12 throughout the cluster in Frisco, Texas.
Backward planning will be utilized to arrange educational experiences and spotlight anticipated targets to supply deliberate outcomes towards main occasions resembling ensemble live shows, solo performances and plenty of different exhibits. Utilizing this method, I’ve had the chance to show college students learn how to observe effectively and set life like timelines for themselves and inside their ensembles. With modifications alongside the best way and thru quite a few successes and failures, I consider that we’ve discovered our groove.
What’s Backward Planning?
As educators, we’re continuously setting targets, adjusting expectations and formulating ingenious options to the distinctive challenges we set for our college students. With backward planning, we begin on the finish of a course of — for instance, a efficiency — and retroactively apply benchmarks to sure dates main as much as that last efficiency. The most typical benchmark could be to have the notes to a particular piece of music realized by a particular date, permitting for flex time earlier than the efficiency to fine-tune dynamic method and musical interpretation, which might turn into their very own benchmarks.
When these benchmarks are precisely communicated, college students will agree on what the end result of the ultimate efficiency can be — resembling memorizing a bit or submitting the piece for festivals and competitions — and the trainer maintains this expectation. This course of works properly for a lot of college students however, sadly, not for the whole ensemble.
I discovered that even after setting benchmark expectations and having clearly communicated the efficiency date to the scholars, there was nonetheless a disconnect amongst some college students, who had been nonetheless scrambling within the last week to tug all of it collectively. This triggered the ensemble as a complete to overlook reaching its full potential.
I attempted to determine what was the reason for this disconnect. After observing the behaviors of scholar teams from quite a few grades and skill ranges, I found that almost all of scholars didn’t know learn how to adequately observe. To handle this, I made a decision to have college students apply the method of backward planning to their working towards and take possession of their studying. Primarily, the scholars mapped out their music targets first after which created particular person observe plans, which helped encourage these college students who had issue in beginning a undertaking by motivating them and permitting them to have a transparent image of what the top outcome would seem like. As soon as college students realized learn how to observe appropriately by way of backward planning, many commented that they want that they had realized this ability earlier to be extra profitable.
At present, I’m the percussion director for the Wakeland Excessive Faculty cluster, and on this place, I’ve a direct influence on the best way percussion curriculum is introduced to quite a lot of potential ranges, from center college rookies by way of graduating seniors. I used to be afforded the distinctive alternative to experiment on learn how to train college students backward planning in addition to decide what college students required from me and my workers to make this a profitable method to studying.
Starting Backward Planning with Newcomers
My workers and I made a decision to introduce the idea of backward planning to our newbie center college percussion class the place just one instrument is taught at a time. As a result of new strategies and rhythms are introduced to the category a number of instances all year long, we thought this group could be the simplest to work with to switch and fine-tune the method of backward planning. To ascertain a baseline, we determined to see what modifications had been having a optimistic or unfavourable impact and to finally decide what was working and what wasn’t.
Our preliminary step was to have college students study a brief etude that was properly inside their potential degree for a pass-off due on a sure date. We informed the scholars that they collectively needed to determine benchmark dates previous to the due date and the way a lot of the etude wanted to be realized and carried out by these benchmarks. That is the place we left it as we wished the possession of their backward planning to be solely on them.
The primary benchmark arrived, and the category performed as much as the predetermined measure. We discovered that some college students had ready to the famous measure, some had realized the whole etude, and a few had not even began. Had this been an ensemble setting, this variation in preparation would have triggered the tempo of rehearsal to undergo and elevated the probability that those that had completed the work turning into pissed off with those that had not. It appeared that letting college students set their very own benchmarks and take possession of their particular person studying didn’t repair our problem of insufficient preparation.
We modified the method and added reminders for college students to observe daily and offered data on what they need to be working towards. Even with this alteration, many college students nonetheless solely practiced the evening earlier than, very like cramming for a science or math check, full with a disturbing efficiency the subsequent day. There was nonetheless a disconnect in how college students had been making ready to carry out.
After a couple of extra makes an attempt, we had been nonetheless struggling to have ample preparation for the whole class. That’s once we determined to have college students outline greater than only a benchmark on what they had been making ready. At this level, every thing had been coated beforehand — in different phrases, there have been no new ideas or strategies. Due to this, earlier than they picked up their devices, we had college students undergo the music and make word of what they already knew. By going by way of the music first, college students had been higher ready to not solely set benchmarks, however to plan their practices. Primarily, the scholars went by way of the music very like a director would a rating for an ensemble, which enabled them to suppose by way of the whole etude with the intention to correctly backward plan.
After implementing this alteration, we noticed a noticeable enhance in productive observe and stronger benchmark performances general! College students spent much less time in a observe room and extra time enjoying within the classroom, they usually truly pushed the tempo of the category ahead. Ultimately, my workers and I put collectively an instance of the etude — by way of recordings or demonstrations — whereas college students studied the etude. Afterward, we noticed a good higher enhance in general participation and preparation and an enchancment in efficiency.
Advancing Backward Planning to the Excessive Faculty Stage
We took what we realized with the start class and utilized it to the highschool degree, seamlessly incorporating the method of instructing learn how to successfully observe by using backward planning. The one distinction between ensembles was the size and issue of what college students had been making ready.
College students on the increased degree had not essentially been taught learn how to observe, however they had been reaching at an ample degree solely due to the general time they spent on their instrument. College students had been mindlessly working towards by repping a bit again and again till they, by pure repetition, memorized the music — oftentimes with errors and restricted musicality.
With backward planning, college students first centered on the top outcome by finding out and listening to the music, after which visualizing what the ultimate efficiency could be. We noticed an identical outcome to the newbie class — the highschool college students had been spending much less time in a observe room however had been reaching at the next degree. Many college students additionally mentioned that that they had extra satisfaction after their observe periods due to how productive they had been.
I can be excited when the rookies who began on the backward planning course of in center college advance to highschool. What components of the method stayed with college students by way of the years? What, if something, has modified?
Yearly, we’re confronted with new challenges and alternatives to switch our backward planning method. As academics, we should continuously adapt and meet our college students the place they’re to assist construct them up as performers and helpful members of our ensembles.