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