This is part one in a series for traveling music teachers, which for most of my teaching career up to this point I travelled and at one point I was in four schools, so I totally totally feel your pain if you are a traveling music teacher.
When I was younger I was a massive reader, and I still read a lot, but just for reference, in first grade I read 275 books. Lots of them were chapter books. I was just a HUGE book worm. I was really pretty good at inferring what words meant and the word “itinerant” came up in multiple books as I was reading (later in elementary not first grade) but I always thought that the word meant crabby, kind of irritable, or something along those lines because I was inferring that these itinerant teachers where just crabby.

Of course now that I’ve been an itinerant teacher I totally understand WHY I inferred that word instead of traveling because there is so much that goes into being a traveling teacher. It’s just such a headache, so let’s talk about what we can do to kind of get rid of some of the things that make it more obnoxious so these first five things that can hopefully make your life a little easier.  

1. Home Base

First, make one school a home base. Pick one of the schools that you go to and make that the place you consider your main building. Ideally that should be the school that you spend the most time at but if you’re equally split then you might just have to make the choice. When I was in four schools it was really easy because one of them when I was at the most so it just made life easier as this was my home base. It’s important to pick one because:

  • Home calendar
  • Home classroom rules
  • A place for your sub to refer to
  • Emergencies
  • Staff meetings
  • Participation in school events that are across the district.
  • NOTE: Depending on your situation, you may want to make your home your first school of the day for your sub. If not, make sure that your first school has all the stuff you need for your sub and then make it clear that the other is the ‘home base’.

2. Policies, rules, meetings and all the stuff…

Planning for all these can be really difficult when you’re traveling, and sometimes it relies on your admin just letting you know what needs to be done in different places. It’s not really possible for you to participate in three or four different staff meetings because that would just be obnoxious, terrible, and unrealistic. Picking one of those places to be that home base where you go for all this info is a good idea too. Admins from the other schools must know they need to relay certain info.

If you are in a place where you have different rules or school rules, talk to your admins and see if you can create one set of rules like the non-negotiables so those can be kind of your big “these are the rules in our classroom” and then adapt it to the rules in particular for the school so the students can relate to it. It keeps language and rewards (if you use them) consistent and will help keep you sane.

3. Keep it in your car

Some things, you just need in your car. Now, I don’t mean make your car a traveling classroom because you know I am all about boundaries, but at the same time there are certain things that you just might need.
Instead of having doubles, or carrying them all over the place, put an emergency bag in your car. Get one of those little trunk organizers that zips, a tote, or a little gym bag and keep some essentials in the trunk.

A couple of things that I always kept in my car were

  • pens/pencils
  • an extra phone charger
  • granola bars
  • crystal light packets (because you know as well as I do that water fountains in schools don’t always taste that great)
  • hand sanitizer
  • a Tide pen,
  • ibuprofen
  • A change of clothes

4. Keeping things at each school

Because you are traveling, don’t rely on yourself to remember the things you use all the time. It’s also important to make sure you aren’t using materials from one school to make materials for the other. They have separate budgets so things like copies should be made at the school they are for.

Keep track of things by using clip boards or a file folder. I kept one clip board for each school so that I knew what belonged where, and what documents were for what school.

5. Digitize

One of the main reasons I started doing things on TpT was because I wanted to carry less traveling from school to school. The more I could do digitally was so helpful for me so I knew I had what I needed from school to school. Consider digitalizing because:

  • Less to carry
  • You KNOW you have important docs with you
  • You can print materials at the appropriate school
  • Quality control – if all your schools don’t have the same medium, you know that you can at least make sure your lessons are as close to similar as possible.
  • You won’t have to keep track of a primary file, find it in a binder or remake it.
  • You can organize how ever you want and even keep multiple copies without having extra paper.
  • If you use the cloud, it’s easy to access anywhere!

I hope this has been helpful!!

Look for Part 2 soon!. 🙂

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