I have discovered and come to enjoy EdChats on Twitter. It is a great way to learn from other teachers and share problems and solutions across the globe. A topic in an EdChat this morning was active learning and what it looks like. As I begin the process of moving to a more student-driven learning atmosphere in social studies, I have to have an idea in mind of what I want my classes to look like. I've always had one of the "louder" classrooms in my hall, sometimes to the detriment of learning, but I've always felt that there has to be conversation around learning and sometimes those conversations get pretty loud. Is this good? Well, for my classroom, yes.
I must admit that there have been times when I've walked down the hall, glancing into others' rooms, jealous of the quiet that these teachers can get from their kids. That never seems to happen in my room. What I've come to conclude is that we are different teachers and use our talents in different ways to get the most out of kids. I learn through active conversations with others, bouncing ideas off of others and thinking out loud. I learn loudly. I know that there is a time and place for quiet reflection, focus, pondering, imagining, dreaming and wondering. We do a lot of that in class, but since we are all together in class at the same time, I figure we should also do much of the collaborative work there. When kids have productive conversations, they do get excited. It's not misbehavior or intentional disruption, rather it is excitement at the exchange of ideas or the creating that is taking place. This is the noise of learning.
There have been times when I have had a class that had to be reined in more than I'd like because the group could not stay focused enough to learn. If the noise becomes a detriment to learning, then we have to find other ways to collaborate, whether it is to divide into smaller groups, move kiddos around, etc. The worst thing to do would be to throw out the collaborative piece because of too much noise. Problem solving through collaboration is an increasingly necessary skill to have and kids have to learn how to effectively do it using their talents and skills.
Because of the way I learn, loudly and with energy, that is probably why my classes are the same way. They are a reflection of my personality and my values as a teacher. It is why my classroom may be different than others teachers' classes. The other classrooms reflect the personalities and values of those teachers and they too skillfully get the most out of their kiddos. Mine is the blessing of the loud classroom. I wouldn't have it any other way!