It all started with my midterm class performance review that I conducted during one of my regular semester classes. Taking advantage of the teaching practices I learned at FIU, halfway through the semester I started to host a one-on-one 10 minute discussion with my class, on things they liked or did not like with the materials covered in class and how it was presented to them. I focused the discussion on the quality of peer review activities, how to encourage participation in class, communicating ideas, and on the various media resources used while teaching each lesson. During one of these sessions a student voiced a concern about testing in a quiet room.
The student indicated that while testing itself was unnerving, it was especially more so when a person had to sit in a room full of people, listening to the sound of a ticking clock. The consensus among the students was that the silent exam room was no different than being told to test in the middle of a night club during its peak hours.
After transitioning the discussion towards test taking techniques I was still curious, so I doubled back and asked the students what environment they preferred to be in when they were writing papers. The majority of the students indicated that they preferred to work with some degree of noise/music in the background. No surprise there right?
But even though we moved on to that day’s lesson and we moved forward towards completing the semester, I was still intrigued by the discussion on music that we had. I was not exactly sure why at the time, but eventually a rationale took shape in my mind. I really wanted to incorporate music into the classroom; especially given that we were in writing course and many students claimed to not enjoy writing. I wanted to create an environment conducive to fun, one that was natural, and that would allow me to create a positive association towards writing. My only concern now was that If I started using music in that classroom in the middle of the semester that it might disrupt those students who had already developed a set routine in the class. So I decided to transition my attempt with music in the classroom to my next class. But how exactly would I do so?
The following semester I taught a summer class at 8′ o clock in the morning. Talk about a quadruple whammy. 1) Not only am I teaching writing, but 2) its a summer course, and 3) its earlier than than the average student would like. Finally, to top it all off, 4) I was a Monday through Thursday class for an 1hr and 15 minutes. I knew right off the bat that I needed to create a class culture that was laid bad and welcoming, but that was also firm: I guess if I was going to use music, now would be as a good a time as any….
[to be continued…]