With this Ableton project that we have been working on with middle schoolers (from a distance through online interactions) I have been having a lot of questions about the way that the class itself was run, how it came about, and what exactly was the point of this project. This week we had the teacher come in and share some things about the way this project came about and what he has been doing with it. He also discussed his personal philosophy of how he interacts with students that don’t want to participate. This has gotten me thinking about what I would do if I were in his situation and also about what I have to start thinking about before I head into the field. I realize that any opinions that I have on this subject are just the opinions of a student with limited teaching experience, and I have never been completely in charge of a classroom on my own, so I cannot judge him too harshly on things that we may disagree on because he actually has the experience.
His philosophy is that he doesn’t want to force them to do anything, it is up to them whether they fail or succeed. When there are students on their phone or distracted he doesn’t punish them or take away their phones because that does not guarantee that they will actually get to work and that they will become engaged, in fact it may make them even less interested and angry towards the teacher and still not get their work done. He also described how he lead into this class and this project. This is a new class where he has the control over what is taught and what they can do with the technology that they have at they school. These students have little to no music training and are in an area and grade level where they have no real motivation to do will in this elective class. I will say that I am not sure exactly what I would do, but I think that I would try to be more strict than simply asking them to be responsible and get to work.
I realize that this project was not for everyone. I was hesitant about it because it was something different and I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out. For some, it went as expected, the kids did the work and had a good time with it, and learned a lot about music from doing a simple cover of a pop song. For others, it was a struggle because the kids were simply not interested in it one way or the other and didn’t want to actually do any of the work, which put us in a difficult situation. I did try to keep an open mind, but it is hard to have fun with this when there isn’t work being done on both ends. I do think that this is something that might be fun, and even do something like video game compositions or something else that students might be interested in. I don’t know what to expect going into the field, but things like this show me the possibilities and realities that are out there. It also gets me thinking seriously about the way that I might want to run my own classrooms at some point.