My Chorus Handbook
Every fall, I update my chorus handbook and give out new copies during the first week of school. Today, I'm sharing what I include in my chorus handbook, including a PDF download at the end of the post.
This welcome letter provides a brief overview of what parents and student can find info for in the handbook, and a message on the importance of music and performance in education.
Ensembles This explains the basic setup of my program. I teach two classes of each grade, and each class is mixed gender.
Fees My students pay a 30.00 chorus fee annually. It's important for students and parents to not only know there is a fee, but what that fee helps fund.
I describe what each casual and formal uniform looks like, and provide care information for our formal dress uniforms. It's smart to include certain disclaimers like "guys should wear BLACK socks with their formal uniforms," because you know there's always one boy that tries to show up wearing white socks.
Fundraisers. We have two main fundraisers annually: one in the fall, and one in the spring. I allow students to use the fall fundraiser to offset their chorus fees, and typically let them use the spring fundraiser to offset any field trips that semester. I typically use a fundraising company brochure for the fall, and I've done several different ones in the spring like: popcorn, ad book programs, and selling chocolate. Grades. Performance-based classes are a little different when it comes to grading. I want my expectations to be as clear as possible so that everyone understands where there grades come from. Weighting for minor grades like homework/classwork/participation vs. tests and projects are dictated by my district. Weight for exams is also determined by the district, but I determined what counted as my exam grade.
Absences from a Rehearsal or Performance/ Social Media, Website, and Blog
Absences I really try to drive home how important rehearsal and performance attendance is for the success of our program. Without consistent attendance, it's really hard to achieve results. I understand how busy schedules are for my chorus families, so I try to keep required after school rehearsals to a minimum. Rehearsals that do need to happen are announced waaay in advance. I schedule most after school rehearsals for the entire year so that I can send them home with my handbook during the first week of school. Social Media, Chorus Website, and Blog The internet is a pretty cool thing for music programs. On the whole, it makes communication much easier. This section explains what I use most frequently to communicate with the community, and also provides a disclaimer about photos and videos in my classroom. Students and parents have the option of notifying me at any time if they become uncomfortable with being featured online. Though, most of them love seeing themselves on the blog!
Statement of Understanding
The statement of understanding is basically my insurance policy, and it's saved me time and time again. I always include this at the end, and ask that parents and students sign the form saying they've read the handbook and understand the policies of the chorus program. In times where my grading or concert attendance policies have been disputed, this little sheet of paper has saved me. My admin loves that I have this, because all we have to do is remind the parents and students that they signed this form understanding chorus program policies.
I also like to attach a chorus calendar with all of our tentative dates for the year. Check out this post to see how I made sure students took their calendars home last year!