I’ll admit it: background noise bothers me. I find it really hard to focus. I always have. Under my breath, I’m constantly going, “shhh.” It’s such a habit now that I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. I think that I shushed a fellow teacher the other day. 🙂
Today though, I realized that I need to shush students less. It was quite the experience, and one of those times that I wish that I had a video camera in hand. During first nutrition break today, it’s choir for all those students that want to go, and most do. I only had about 8 students left in the classroom, and they chose to watch a movie while eating their lunches. They asked me to play an episode of Math Monsters. The students chose Math Monsters Geometry. I had some things to organize for after the break, so I was puttering in the classroom while the students were watching the movie. I’m so glad that I was there!
As I was working, I heard one boy say to another one, “Hey look. The monster said that building has eight sides. I think it’s seven. How’s it 8?” Then they started to talk. The boy that he asked went up to the SMART Board. He said, “Just look. There’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 sides around, and one on the top and one on the bottom. Six plus 2 makes 8. There are 8 sides.” Then the students went on to discuss shapes. They started talking about the shapes that they saw. They even said that each of the math monsters are different shapes, and they began to name these shapes too. Wow!
These students were sharing ideas, asking questions, and reflecting on what they were hearing. I usually would have told them to stop talking because they were supposed to be listening, but maybe students can listen and talk at the same time. Maybe we need to shush students less and let them talk more. Maybe if we give students the language to use in the classroom and model how to use it well, this is exactly what they’ll do. Would I want a whole class of students talking loudly during a movie? No. But would some quiet discussion to share ideas and reflect on what they’re hearing, hurt? Maybe not. Maybe giving this “talking time” is one of the best things that we can do as teachers.
What do you think? What would you do? I’d love to hear your ideas!