Thanks to the piano teachers who share their ideas on a blog, I found someone who uses a rating system. Not only has this GREATLY improved my students preparedness, but this year I have seen the most progress overall. As soon as I can remember who I got this idea from, I will acknowledge them at once!
Each week I now rate my student's lesson on how well they can demonstrate their assignment. Of course I don't count it against them when they have genuine difficulty understanding something, but overall, its apparent to me if they practiced or not (and how much they practiced) as soon as their hands hit the keys.
Thanks to Music Teacher's Helper, I was able to edit the lesson notes email template with a description of this rating. I email the rating to parents each week automatically as I reconcile the lesson. The student is immediately held accountable for what they did, rather than what the quickly dashed-off parental initials said they did.
Immediately following the lesson, my students receive the same number of beads as their rating to string on their practice chain. The practice chains hang in my waiting room and are a HUGE HIT ! Students have a visual reminder of just how daily practice builds over time. They can see what their peers are accomplishing at the same time and this can help a student who may be lagging behind with their practice habits very quickly. Because the beads are black and white, some students chose to emulate piano keys while others just do their own pattern...and some are just randomly strung. Right now, many are into their 2nd keyboard (88 beads, of course) - the first and second keyboards are seperated by 2 stars.
At the end of the year, the students who consistently rated 4's and 5's will receive the 1st place practice award. They've EARNED it.
Here is the system I use:
1=Student was completely unprepared and likely did not practice much at all during the week. Progress may be lost. Supervised practice is necessary.
2=Student may have practiced a bit, but was unable to demonstrate a minimum 50% of their assignment at the lesson. Progress was limited this week. Supervised practice is strongly recommended.
3=Student practiced, but could not demonstrate a mastery of the assignment. Home practice habits may need to be reviewed or the student may have failed to complete the assignment by forgetting written work, leaving a book at home, or forgetting to read the assignment instructions and could not demonstrate the instruction in the lesson. Progress may be limited.
4=Student practiced, completed the assignment, and demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of the entire assignment in the lesson. This was a job well done! The student will progress quickly.
5=Student not only practiced the assignment, but went beyond and played even better than I expected. Student may have looked ahead or practice more than was assigned. Student will progress VERY quickly.
Credit for the bead idea goes to Piano Perspectives.
For the latest version of this year's practice chains- read the following post.....