Organized ChaosI’ve been critiqued on my classroom management style in the past as I was trying to figure what my teaching style is.  I’ve also been critique later in my career for having a classroom that is noisy yet productive.  When I transitioned to an affluent high school, I implemented many of the things I thought would be effective but I was still was bombarded with the same problem.  The problem was that I am not reaching and engaging majority of my students especially our under represented student.  Most of my students are disengaged and passive learners when I am the sage.  Many teachers at the school were the “sage”, the holder of all information aka the 10+ minute lecturer.  Knowing my style of teaching, I also told my student this,  I put myself to sleep when I’m the “sage”.  I really had to change my teaching style up and I decided to go the project based classroom route because my teaching strength was being a coach and guider than a “sage”.   Even though my students complained about the amount of project they needed to do and that they rather want test and lectures (in other words they prefer to be the passive learners), I set the environment where students are now in the drivers seat and they were accountable to the tasks that I was giving them as long as I modeled the task in a variety of ways and as long as I supported students in making their product of learning.  We all have to understand that project based learning is a mode of teaching just like the sage on the stage style which has it’s pros and cons.  I am not good at being the sage on the stage style and therefore have to cater to my own teaching needs.  Not all student strive in a quiet environment but need noise and stimulation to drive their imagination.

Noise, chaos, and a messy classroom is part of the job.  In one area of the room you might have kids cutting things up with a hacksaw, in another part of the room, you might have students painting, in another part of the room you have to manage students because they are not following your expectations, and in another part of the room you have student working from a laptop.  10 minutes before the end of class, you ring the bell and shout with your huge monstrous voice “It is time to clean up.”    This is a project based room and it is normal for facilitators to experience structured chaos.  Part of the reason why many teacher don’t want to go this route is because they fear that they will lose control of the class and I get that.  Also not all student will benefit or will not be able to handle  over stimulation in a project based classroom.  Once we loose control, we fear that students will take advantage of the situation.  Remember that we are still teachers, we still hold high expectation of our students, and we still have to model what behaviors we want our student to act upon. But it is powerful when we give students control of their learning by having them come up with an ideas and having us support them in making that idea happen.  It is power to given them the space and resources to do the learning.  It is powerful when they are working with the coach.  Trusting our student to drive their own learning is a huge jump of faith and for me I would do anything to empower my students to drive their own learning experience.