Currently, every week I have 37 unique lesson plans to oversee. Each and every student has their own individual repertoire, theory homework, technical development, sight and ear training skills, and performance goals. Plus a choice of four different exam sessions each calendar year. Add group classes, recitals, and festivals. Oh, and did I mention that I’m getting older every day?
Sometimes I forget.
For years I have written weekly homework assignments in students’ notebooks. I have also had a big planning binder on my desk that organized this information by student. It was working. Until the student forgot their notebook at home. Or I missed jotting down some notes at a lesson because we were engaged in some great music making.
That’s the slogan of Evernote software. I started using Evernote this year for my weekly and yearly lesson plans. A big benefit for me has been that I now have an exact copy of each student’s weekly homework. I can look back as I plan ahead. I can organize these notes into different notebooks grouped by student or subject. I can tag and search notes, and add reminders so I never miss a deadline. I can email a note home or share it online with a student. It’s easy to attach pdf documents and videos into a weekly assignment. There’s a version for my laptop and my phone so I can work on things any time or place that suits me.
In the middle of all this technology, a surprising byproduct occurred. A new line of communication opened up between students, parents, and teacher. Many of the weekly emails go via a parent’s email. They’re writing back to let me know when family schedules are out of the ordinary or if my instructions are unclear. My teenage students are reading their homework straight off their phones and emailing me if they need an extra copy of a handout.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some planning to do.