School has started and I have been getting to know my students. We have been teaching 2 weeks and I have done a few things that have let my students know that it is “our class” and not “my class.” They have responded well to their new freedoms. I want to share a few of the things I have tried so far. My objective is, indeed, to make the classroom experience more of a democratic one, as opposed to the usual “teacher dictates the rules.”
I began the school year by asking the students to vote on a few rules for the class: Is wearing hates allowed? Is food allowed? What about Ipods? Chewing gum? The students voted on each proposal and, to no one’s surprise, they approved each. I told them, however, with more freedom come a few responsibilities. For example, put all trash in the garbage can, only listen to your Ipod when doing an individual activity, etc.
On Friday, I told them something that would give them the feeling that, indeed, it was our class and not just mine: I told them they could rearrange the classroom as they saw fit. After I said this, a few of the boys rearranged their tables to form an L shape. (I only have tables in my class.) The others were happy the way they were situated but have the right to change when they see fit.
Those are just a few things I have tried thus far. My goal towards a democratic classroom continues. Indeed, my goal towards a better learning environment also continues.