While contemplating if the level of conversation in my classroom, I started observing my students to acquire insight as to what is going on and this is what I discovered:
- I have worked hard to create a safe environment for my students and when they walk into our classroom I sense a sigh of relief. The students are not afraid of making mistakes, of being wrong, of not knowing. So, when they enter, they want to tell me things about their day, what is going on in their lives and they are relaxed and relieved to be in our classroom.
- They see me being myself (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and that is a model and invitation for them to do the same. I want to know my kiddos and they have to feel comfortable and trust me. We laugh at my weaknesses and celebrate my strengths which in turn allows them to do the same with each other.
- I am implementing standards based grading (I am at the infancy level) which has given students a confidence level I have not seen in my 20 years of teaching. They understand that they have to prove knowledge of standards and instead of asking what to do to get an A, they ask "what do I need to do to show advanced or proficient on a standard?" What an incredible shift in conversation in the classroom!
- The students are persevering on problems that they would have given up on and proudly stating: "I did it the long way because that is what made sense for me."
- The students freely admit, "I don't know what to do or understand what is going on", knowing that I will not tell them the answer, but will ask guiding questions to help them make meaning and build their understanding. I love when a student comes to me and says: "I know you will not tell me anything, but could you ask me some questions to help me move forward?"
So, as I contemplate the loudness of my classroom, instead of thinking that I am failing at discipline, I need to look at the reasons for the increased level of conversation. The students are comfortable, relaxed, and confident. Isn't that what any teacher would want happening in their classroom?