During the month of April I was able to attend an education conference hosted by Saint Mary's University year two Master's of Education and Learning learners. It was a fabulous display of all that excites me about education: teachers sharing ideas, gaining insights from each other, learning what the research has to say, as well as what that always important instructor, Experience, can teach us.
Following the conference I was challenged to incorporate at least 2-3 ideas from what I learned at the conference into my classroom. (Logical, right? Learn about what all these amazing teachers are doing and then try it!) Upon reflecting on all that I had learned at the conference I realized that I had been skipping a very simple, but powerful habit for creating a positive working environment in my classroom--MUSIC.
The timing of this discovery was perfect because I had been becoming very frustrated with my students not using class work time productively. They just couldn't keep themselves from talking. So I combined this frustration with the great reminder that music can relax an environment and help students focus and chose to play music during our next working class period.
The results were amazing (though possibly skewed because I also threatened a quiz if a majority of the students chose not to use their time wisely by talking and interrupting others.) But I would like to think that the music played a role in the students finding a higher level of focus that day.
Below is my thinking process, results and reflection:
Why implement music?
The classroom I am teaching in is a multi-grade (9-11) room. It is a big open area with two smaller classrooms to one side and the church kitchen and storage on the other. The back of the room is also the "hallway" by which other students pass to get to their classrooms. Above the classroom is the sanctuary which is also used for PE and drama classes. Any noise from up their travels down. Because there is a lot of noise in our classroom and I have noticed the students can’t seem to handle quiet without feeling the urge to talk, I chose to start playing background music during work time.
What was the overall result?
I believe it did the following: 1) Buffered the noises that are naturally a part of the classroom. 2) helped me to not hear every little comment that is made (which was driving me batty), and 3) I think it really did help the kids to realize it isn’t talking time but working time. (I only had to remind them about the quiz 1 time, about 5 minutes in to working. Otherwise, most of them managed to stay on task--or at least refrain from disturbing others around them).
Will you use this activity again? Why? How could it be tweaked for improvement?
Yes! However, I realized my playlist is pretty limited in the area of “background” music. So I need to be better prepared before class, think ahead to what music would be most appropriate. The album I had on last week was typical background music, but maybe a bit too upbeat and maybe a little too romantic of an English classroom setting. (They commented they liked the idea of music, but that my choice of music was up to their standards of "good music"! Sorry, Michael Buble, these teens might not like you, but I still think you are great!)
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.