I am proud to say I work with, in my humble opinion, some of the hardest working students on my campus. I work with 13 high school students who often struggle in social situations so need some behavior support in order to work towards earning their high school diploma. They are always in motion, interrupt constantly, curse too much, are hard-headed and strong-willed and truly some of the most incredible humans I have ever met. They are funny, loyal, protective, resiliant, determined and kind. I am the luckiest teacher alive.
In my classroom we not only teach academics, we teach life skills to students who may not have opportunites to learn these things otherwise.
We teach them why working hard will get you further in life than skating by. We build trust, friendships and bonds that will hopefully last a lifetime. We instill strategies to help them remain calm and refocus when things become frustrating and teach healthier communication techniques so one day they can hold a job and maintain relationships. We may only be together for 1-4 years, but we make our time count!
Any educator will tell you one of the biggest problems in our classrooms are cell phones. Due to the nature of the students I work with cell phones can equate to even more distractions, cyber-bullying while in class and less work being done. Because of this, in addition to knowing that cell phones are as good as gold to teens, I take away cell phones until classwork is complete in order to offer them an incentive to make positive choices and teach them "work first, relax second". Taking away cell phones has its definite pros, but I am realizing how important music is to many of my students for multiple reasons and I am finding myself between a rock and a hard place. By taking away phones I am decreasing some behaviors, but other behaviors are increasing.
Music has been proven to be a powerful tool in learning.
It can calm students if escalated, drown out noise so they can focus on their work instead of what others are doing and even can create conversations, sharing and bonding. If I can offer my students mp3 players instead of their cell phones while doing their work, they can only listen to music and remain unable to surf the web, text friends or play games. They won't hear any comments their peers may be making therefore wont be engaging in negative interactions as often. I will also have their main incentive, their cell phone to work towards therefore maintaining motivation to complete assignments and stay on track with behavior instead of fighting an uphill battle with nothing to offer them.
I want my kids to succeed, and if music helps them focus for just 1 class a day, I am 1 class closer to cheering them on at their graduation.
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