I am curious as to what other schools’ policies are regarding music in classrooms. Our school does not allow kids to put headphones on and listen to their own music, but teachers can play music on speakers to the whole class. Given that we are now a one-to-one classroom, doesn’t ity make sense to allow kids to use their own music in certain situations? As our school has begun to embrace technology, I feel there is a need to change the rule regarding technology. Just as teachers allow their students to use their laptops as a tool for learning, I would also like to let teachers decide when they can allow students to listen to music. While there are some problems with laptops with kids using them inappropriately, we still find that laptops are great tools for learning and the pros of allowing this technology far outweigh the cons. I believe the same is true for the use of headphones.
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We already allow the students to use headphones to listen to academic material with audio content and the rule change would only add the listening of music to that list of legal uses of the technology. While I understand that students may ask or beg us to use music during times that are inappropriate or times that are not ideal, we would use those as teaching moments to explain to them when is an appropriate time to listen to music while working.
There is much research out there that shows that listening to music while working helps many students to focus and get more and better quality work done. Music is particularly effective for kids with ADHD and it also helps keep those kids from distracting the rest of the class. While no one is saying that we should always let kids listen to music, let’s put the control of this tool back into the hands of the teacher to make the best decision for the situation of the class.
While not all students should use this technology, it is important for them to learn when and where they should and should not use music as well as what type of music they should be using (like music with no words). As teachers we can help them figure that out pretty quickly.
I have been very frustrated that one of my Math 8 classes (our lowest level math students in grade 8) which has a heavy concentration of impulsive ADHD kids, who could easily be managed better with music. As it is, these highly distracted kids hear any noise or cough and automatically comment on the sound and then everyone feels they need to comment on that comment, etc. I spend a considerable amount of energy telling kids to be quiet when it would be so much easier for them to focus on individual math practice if they were with headphones on and with less distraction. While one could argue that listening to music is distracting and that we can’t multitask, there is no way that it could be a worst distraction than these highly impulsive students are already to themselves and to others.
There are many times that it would be improper to use headphones in the classroom, like when students are working in collaborative groups. However, the right to use music as a tool to help students avoid distraction should be given to the teacher of the classroom.
Some questions that could be raised:
1. How can we be sure students are listening to appropriate music, (baroque / without lyrics…)?
First we need to teach them why. I don’t think you can monitor this 100%, but if kids can’t get work done, we take the privilege away from those who cannot use it well. Its a teachable moment.
2. Why is it better for an individual to plug into earbuds rather than play music for the whole class?
Some students do not focus better with music. The goal isn’t to make everyone face the same environment, but to create the best environment for each kid.
3. What happens when the buzz of someone else’s ear buds is distracting to the point where another student is “forced” to put on their own headphones to tune it out?
If a teacher can hear it, it is too loud. If they repeat the problem, they lose the privilege.
4. How can we support teachers who don’t want to allow any individual music listening in their classrooms yet don’t want the label of being a hard-nosed, unreasonable teacher?
We must educate the kids about when it is appropriate to be using music to help focus and when it is distracting, and use it as a tool only for those appropriate situations. All of us should eventually come to realize what is a good use of music (maybe we can see for what purposes the research recommends and have a meeting where we discuss what types of situations it is good for.) We can educate students if we are also educated about good practice.
5. related question: How can we make sure kids don’t constantly pester us about plugging into music?
Let it be known that kids who consistently ask for music at inappropriate times will lose their privileges to listen to music when it is appropriate. Educate them about when it is appropriate or even make a poster of it on our class wall.
So what are the rules regarding music in the classrooms at your school and how is that working?