Elizabeth Caldwell

Store Name:

Organized Chaos

What I Have Taught:

General music from Preschool through 8th grade (primarily K-5) with American and British curricula, elementary choirs, and other ensembles including step team, “stomp”-style drumming group, orchestra, handbell choir, and more!

Where I am From and Where I Have Taught:

Explaining where I’m “from” is complicated….. I was born in St. Louis, MO, in the United States, but spent most of my childhood in Japan (attending public schools etc- Japanese is my “home language/culture”). I also spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a couple of years in Tennessee (USA) in elementary school, finished high school back in St. Louis, and attended university in Illinois (USA). The first 7 years of my teaching were in international schools in Seoul, South Korea. After taking a year off to take care of my twin babies, I started working in Connecticut, USA, where I am now!

Favorite Teaching Memory:

It’s SO HARD to choose one favorite memory! When I sift through all of the most memorable/ happy/ emotional moments over my teaching career though, the memories that float to the top are all related to students who came into their own under my care- mostly students who didn’t speak English when I first met them. Growing up all over the place as a child myself, my heart melts instantly when I meet another child who has to show up every day at school unable to understand a single word being spoken around them. The light in their eyes when they are finally able to express themselves in music class in some way, and they see their peers and I respond with understanding, is just indescribable.

My favorite memory from this school year so far is the first time I got my 5th and 6th grade choir to sing in 3-part parallel harmony. Most of the students were so incredibly focused on their parts that they were unaware of the magic they were creating, but one 6th grade girl and I heard the harmonies at the same time and I saw my sheer excitement mirrored in her face- she clearly knew just how amazing that moment was and we basked in the glory of our accomplishment together 🙂

Quick, Fun Facts About Me:

I love paper crafting. I grew up as an avid scrapbooker, and now have turned that hobby into planner decorating and digital design. I share my planner spreads on Instagram if you want to see what I do- I love using washi tape, scrapbook paper, stickers, and post-it notes to make my planner a happy place to be (since I spend so much time with it!).

I am a divorced single mom to twin girls who just turned 5. This means there are more preschoolers in my house than grownups, so I have every excuse in the world to use rainbow-colored everything in my house. Fun fact about my kids: they’ve learned to be quite independent by the nature of their upbringing- one of the best things about this is that they are in charge of dinner once a week, and they do quite a good job of it too! They plan, cook, and serve dinner pretty much all by themselves, and I love it.

Why I Love TpT:

My teaching has been completely re-invigorated because of TpT! I have gotten so many great center ideas, sub plans, and more from TeachersPayTeachers that I never would have thought of myself. As a creator, I love the creative outlet that I have in designing lesson materials, curriculum, planner inserts, and other materials for teachers. Designing materials that will not just work for me but will be appealing and helpful to other teachers around the globe has pushed me to make everything the best that I can, which is awesome!

Music Teacher Quick Tip:

I teach in a pretty challenging, Title I school, where the majority of the students walk through our doors with a lot of emotional turmoil already under their belts, and while I’ve spent a lot of time developing a classroom culture of respect that works for most kids, I still have a few children that need almost constant reminders of appropriate behaviors. One tip I got from our school’s social worker that I’ve had a lot of success with is to keep a set of rubber bands on 1 wrist, and privately tell that individual student in advance that you will move a rubber band from one wrist to the other whenever you want them to check their behavior. It’s a great non-verbal cue that none of the other students even notice and it’s a lot easier than having little charts and papers to keep track of when I have hundreds of students that I see in a day. I also will attach it to a reward/consequence, where if I move 1 or no rubber bands within a class period I’ll send home a special note and make a big deal to their teacher of how well they did, and if I move all of the rubber bands I call home and/or the student is asked to leave the classroom. Obviously I can only use this with 1 student within each class, but I am able to use this with multiple students across different grade levels and it has worked really well for them!

Two products you may not have seen in my store:

Most people familiar with my store know about my line of Entire Life Music Teacher Planners and my world music resources, but you may not know that I have been adding curriculum sets to my store this year, and I also have several composition resources that I love!

This has been a labor of love for me this year: I have put together all of my lesson plans, with all of the accompanying materials (visuals, worksheets, sheet music, recordings, and more) into grade level and monthly sets. This bundle is a huge money-saver and has everything I use for all of my K-6 general music classes for the entire school year, but I am also posting each month and each grade separately so that teachers can get exactly what they need for their situation.

I learned a lot about teaching composition from my experience using the British National music curriculum, and one of the most important things I learned is that, for students to develop composition skills, they need to be composing early and often. These worksheets break down composition tasks into manageable, small chunks that are accessible for even the youngest students, and the easy to read format makes it much less intimidating. I also have targeted, contextualized composition units for older students, like the movie music composition projectvideo game composition project, and chord progression composition project, which my “big kids” love!

Thanks for taking the time to read- I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you better as well, so please leave a comment! I’d love to know your favorite behavior management trick, or just tell me where you’re from (your answer can’t possibly be as long as mine)! Be sure to check out the other crew members’ introductions, and stay tuned for future posts with more introductions and tons of new ideas for music teachers!!

If you want to read more of my posts, come and visit my blog– I post twice a week about home and school! 🙂

Have a wonderful week!
Elizabeth Caldwell
Organized Chaos

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Elizabeth Caldwell

I give music teachers the freedom to be creative through purposeful organization. I'm a mixed methods elementary music teacher, mom to twin girls, and planner lover with a cross cultural upbringing.