I started playing music during the first few minutes of class while students work on their “Do Now.” During this time, students work silently on a question that either draws on previous material or leads into new material (often both). This helps get students in the right mental space to start class, it maintains work from the second the bell rings, and it provides some continuity between classes (everyone does this). Playing music was suggested by admin as a way to provide some background noise to help focus students so they don’t talk. It can help get some of that energy out and provides additional cues to the students. During music, they work quietly. When it ends, I’m about to speak. So far I think there has been a nice effect and I think this will grow as students get used to it as part of their routine.
On Friday, we had a lab where students measured the temperature of cold water every minute for 15 minutes while it warmed up to room temperature. There wasn’t a lot that the students had to do while they waited each minute, so they were able to talk and I decided to play music during this time. I think the music and simple hands on lab provided a very relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and was a perfect end to the first week of the semester. The time between measurements wasn’t a complete waste either. I had many students call me over because the temperature wasn’t changing (it did change over the 15 minutes, just slowly). We had good conversations about trusting and recording data and trying not to let our assumptions interfere with the experiment.
I really enjoyed the result of playing music. The classroom atmosphere was different in a very positive way, and I really enjoyed those classes. I felt better as I went from group to group and students were quieter and more attentive the few times I had to interrupt everyone and make an announcement. I hope to continue to put music into my lessons while students are working and I play the role of the guide.