Learning from mistakes

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”
– Attributed to Sumner Redstone

Sometime as a teacher you decide to try something different from the norm. On occasion it will work, but just as often it does not. Yesterday afternoon I had a Stage Three class for the final hour of the day, straight after recess. The class teacher asked me to give his class fifteen minutes to work on their spelling as they had run out of time before going to recess to get to it, which was fine.

Tuesday afternoon is note day in our school, and I have gotten into the habit of having the notes given out as soon as they arrive, so students put them straight into their bags so that neither they or I forget to hand them out. This works well, and only takes a few minutes. In this particular classroom, packing up the room for the end of the day involves all the chairs being stacked over to one side of the room, and the desks over on the other, the process of which takes some five to ten minutes depending on how messy the room is according to what we have been doing.

I decided, yesterday afternoon, to try changing the order around, and had the class pack up the room for the end of the day before we began the learning activities I wanted them to do for the day. I gave the students the time as requested, handed out the notes and then had them pack up the room and return to the floor so I could give out the next set of instructions.

The class had already started the work set by their class teacher when I arrived at the start of the session, and so I had not had an opportunity to have a conversation with them as a group. Not having seen them since the announcement of the Stage Three Lip Sync Battle, I asked for a general show of hands for who was going to, or who had, entered, to bring the class in after they had packed up the room for the end of the day.

I am astounded at the level of excitement about the competition. Of the class of thirty, only two or three students are not entering the competition, and many are entering in both the individual and the group categories. On top of that, where I was expecting that students would be using only recent songs that they knew, there is, going from the discussion, going to be a broad range of both newer and older songs, with some students indicating they are planning on using songs from the eighties and nineties. This, while engaging the students and getting them excited about their songs, it left us with only about ten minutes in the day by the time I was able to draw them back in.

The learning for me from this is that bringing up something that will get them as excited as the prospect of the Lip Sync Battle should actually be left for a conversation at the end of the session, not at the beginning to draw them in. That said, packing up the room for the end of the day before beginning the learning, in this particular class, works quite well, as we can go through right to the bell with students able to simply put their iPads in their school bags and leave, as everything else has already been packed up.

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