Sunday, March 6, 2011

How I Lost Control of My Class

I recognized this week that I had completely lost control of my class.  The students were running the show.  I'm not sure how it happened but I know what started it all.
The first night of Educon 2.3, we heard a panel discussion about Innovation in Education.  One of the panelists was Trung Le from CannonDesigns.  He spoke about classroom design and language.  Maria Knee and I, sitting next to each other, immediately thought about asking him to join us on Conversations to talk about his ideas.  That night at dinner, I approached him about the ideas, exchanged business cards, and received his book, The Third Teacher (definitely worth looking at).

Prior to his joining us on the show, I scanned through the book about classroom design and got inspired.  I went into school the next week and, after having a discussion with the students about what they need to work well, rearranged the classroom.

As the video shows, one of the areas we created was a music area.  Then Maria sent us a Rock Star splitter which allows the children to listen to their IPods without disturbing the rest of the class.  The kids were happy with the setup and enjoyed the different areas of the room.

That was two weeks ago.  Last week I noticed that children who don't sit at the music station were suddenly bringing in their IPods.  They didn't ask.  They just did it.  Every time we were doing independent work, the IPods would come out.  My team kept asking me if we were going to allow this.  But every time I looked around, what I saw was comfortable, productive children.  Yes, there was the occasional child who spent more time choosing music than working.  But those children just needed to be told that if they couldn't work with the music, they had to turn it off.  Some did and some refocused themselves.

Of course, other students from other classes have noticed my students using IPods and want to know why they aren't allowed.  I'm waiting to hear from the other teachers.  But in the meantime, my students are now in control, and I couldn't be happier.

Image: 'Night Train


Jordanne said...

I have been trying to encourage my teachers to allow this but they have nothing but negative to say.....I think what your allowing is fabulous.

teachermum said...

Wow - this sounds like an incredible idea. I have been using music in transition times for a few weeks now - but working this way with music makes so much sense.
Hope I can convince my superiors. I didn't know that the gadget you mention (for a few kids to listen to at a time) was even available.

Online Diploma said...

So nice and interesting..

dkzody said...

Good for you. I taught high school and I allowed my students to listen to their music when I was not directing the class. I also didn't want to hear their music and so if it got too loud they would lose the privilege. The students loved it, obeyed, and we all got along famously. However, the other teachers on campus did not like it. The kids wanted to listen in their rooms, too, because "Mrs. Zody lets us."

Christian Long said...

Absolutely love this moment in your reflection: "But every time I looked around, what I saw was comfortable, productive children." Can't ask for anything more (as an educator or as a parent). Fantastic! And all the best from the entire The Third Teacher + team! Cheers, Christian