Thursday, July 18, 2013

Leaving Well! - What my transition notebook looks like! (now that it's finally finished)

When I figured out this spring that I was going to leave and go to a new school this fall things got just a tad surreal for me.  I was in a fully invested situation where I had really dug in deep and made some roots.  Plus there were just things that I knew about and took care of that no one else thought about because although I'm not the only music teacher at my school I am the only one there all day and so that makes me the keeper of the details.

I could barely get through a class without thinking of something that the new full time music teacher needed to know.  I knew and am excited to see all of the fresh and exciting ideas that she will bring with her, but I knew that she was going to have to hit the ground running and ANY background information that I could provide her as a spring board into her new year would be helpful. 

I started making lists.... and more lists..... I started with a one inch notebook on my desk with some blank dividers that have pockets.  Throughout my day, as I started packing and cleaning out, I would put things in that notebook. 

I even blogged about the notebook as a way to formalize my thinking in hopes of getting it to fit in a nice neat format.  For that post click HERE.

So the last week of school came, I had more teaching to do and with the help of my 1/2 time music teachers I had  2 classrooms, a piano lab, a storage area and a stage to pack up!  That is a lot of putting away!  AND I had to haul all of my personal stuff to my new school.  So I had a moment of clarity and decided to ask if I could just take ALL the files home, give them a good going over and then return them them to the school when they were "de-Bonnie-d" . 

That is exactly what has happened and it has been a slow process. 

I think that maybe notebooks and files like these are probably more essential when you serve your campus in a somewhat specialized capacity.  Music, Art, PE specialists who may be the only person who does their job, certainly appeciate the ANY information that is provided by the person they follow.  We hope that on most grade levels on most campuses there is at least some overlap so that at least one person on the team can be the keeper of the details for that team while the new folks come on board.  In fact, when I left my first school that is exactly what happened.  I left a full time music teacher who kept all of the details.  I simply put my portion of my work on the campus server, sent a few emails, and I was done detangling myself from 10 years of being on the same campus because I had someone with whom I could leave the details. 

About four years ago I followed my friend Rosemary to the school that I've taught at for the last four years, both she and the 1/2 time teacher who had been there were leaving, so the only details available for me were the ones she put in her wonderful transition notebook.    I reffered to that notebook all throughout the entire first year that I was there.    Just this May I got to meet with Libby who I will follow to my new school this August.  She has made a folder box and file folders for me. I was able to meet with her and we went over the transition materials.  Her format was a magazine holder with LOTS and LOTS of file folders.  Same idea, different format.  For the transition at my school, the 1/2 time music teacher at my school is remaining, BUT she is going to be in Africa until the day before school starts, soooooo although her wealth of knowledge from being on campus a couple of years will be extremely useful, she won't be available during those first few days when the new full time music teacher is trying to wrap her mind around this new job. 

These transition notebooks are all about things that the new teachers will need to know.  In my previous blog post, I made a huge list of things that should be in the notebook.  In reality, the list below is what has made the cut..... These are topics that are unique to the campus that I am leaving.

Instructional information / Programs
  • schedule samples
  • district curricullum guides
  • campus traditions (school songs)
  • performance history - programs, notes and recordings

  • teaching resources
  • technology
  • grants - I got a grant for additional computers this last spring.  The new teacher will be the benefactor.  I included a copy of the grant so that she will know what she is getting
  • pictures of where I packed things
  • inventory of recorders
  • information about how and where to order choir shirts
  • list of items provided by

Choir - I made sure that I also have copies of the programs in case I want to incorporate some familiar music at my new school.
  • Repetoire for the last 4 years.
  • Copies of rehearsal CDs, and performance CDs
  • copies of critiques from choir festivals
  • information about field trips and bus request proceedures
Piano lab
  • The set up of this piano lab is tricky, so I included pictures and detailed instructions
  • Before I decided to leave, I was the coordinator for the fall carnival.  This is something that my team will carry, but this transition notebook is a central place to keep ALL of the the things that I was involved in. 

This morning as I was typing this post, I remembered another important thing she needed to know about the costumes and props that are available and where they are stored.  I am beyond the point of typing a new page, so I just wrote out the details on a notepad, put it in a sleeve, and added it to the equipment section

Another good tab that isn't in THIS transition notebook but is in the one that I will get to use this next year is information about budget and fund raisers. 


  1. Oh, am I happy to have found you via UBC. I was a music educator for several years. I walked into one school that hadn't had a music teacher for years. If it had not been for the instrumental teacher, I don't know how I would have made it through m first year so smoothly. Keep doing what you're doing!

  2. It is fabulous that you are so organized - for both your future role and for the replacement teacher taking your original position.

    Music is so important - my children have been participating in music classes (Kindermusik) since they were 3 months old - (they are now 4 and 2)

    Oombawka Design
    visiting from the UBC