I have been taking a Responsive Classroom workshop all week, below is the reflective notes I’ve been taking. My apologies now if some does not make sense. I hope that you take away some good ideas though!
The power of a few words, carefully placed language and a great smile. What do you do to help develop your positive environment in your classroom? As a music teacher I’ve found a lot of the cookie cutter things handed to me are sort of crap, I’m not a normal classroom I need to tailor it to what I do and how I run. What does stay consistent from teacher to teacher is the type of language and the delivery. You need to stay:
-Simple and Direct
Fairly easy to say, but how easy is it to do? Creating that community, that sense of belonging and significance is hard especially if you are a specialist only seeing kids for a period of maybe an hour or less a week. The choice is up to you though. Building that sense of trust and solid rules and procedures takes time, do you take the time to build that positive community or do you continue on teaching to meet those testing requirements that pile up on your desk?
A way to build that sense of trust is through choice. The choice to know yourself as a learner, the choice to make decisions for themselves with the teacher as a guider and facilitator rather than a dictator. Giving choices can make outcomes such as:
Stronger thinking and problem solving skills
Improved academic achievement
More skillful social interaction
Staying with the facilitator area, asking open-ended questions promotes deeper thinking and that positive community you strive for. ” What do you think about this piece?” , “What is an instrument you have seen like this before?” You don’t expect a right or wrong answer, you just expect all thoughts and ideas. It promotes thinking without the pressures you would normally put on them.
Building a more positive community can sometimes be a tough time especially for a specialist. We only see those students for a limited period during the week and have so much to fit in. What I have found that works in my own classroom is having a 5-10 minute meeting at the beginning of every class. This meeting is musical and builds a community and even a trust between teacher and student even in the music classroom. My meetings consist of:
– A message personalized for each grade
– A musical greeting
– Solfedge warmup
– Dance movement break
After that we get right into class. This builds a solid routine and expectations for the kids from the moment they walk into the room. Always remember to close out your class together too to solidify the learning for the class and to bring the kids back to a calm state before leaving your room.
For a specialist who is not a normal classroom, acquiring the common teacher language is really important, know the steps for misguided behavior, had an idea about each classes rules. Designated behavior steps, posted common rules, a known and visible take a break area creates consistency and shows the students you are just as important as their classroom teacher. I’ve seen these work in my room after fine tuning this year. Take a break area is an important place not for being in trouble though, but for taking a quick break for reality and calm down. Take a break is for all who just need 5 minutes to themselves to breath before coming back to talk about it. Model it in the beginning of the year, believe me, the trust builds and behavior goes down because everyone feels safe to express if they has a bad day even with you who they only see a limited amount of time per week.
Creating the perfect music classroom that runs as smoothly as the normal classroom is a tough goal to accomplish but with a:
– Calm demeanor
– Consistent set of rules and consequences
– Overall understanding that not all children mean to misbehave and there are alternatives that cut behaviors done before they even start.
You can create that model classroom where discussions are deep, music is played without aggravation, and motivation to learn expand, and create is at the highest levels. When you have a Positive community you create engaging academics and therefore acquire effective management.