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Friday, October 27, 2017

School Should Be Like a Jazz Bandstand #iteachmath #MTBoS

I am not a Jazz fan whatsoever. I do have a new appreciation for Jazz and what Jazz can teach us. Just watched Stefon Harris TED talk: "There are no mistakes on the bandstand" and it is amazing. He is speaking to a group of business leaders, however, it definitely can be applied to teaching.

"Every "mistake" is an opportunity in jazz"
How great if this was the norm in school? Students mistakes are defined by the quality and tone of the response. For this to happen schools would have to be a place where mistakes are celebrated, encouraged, and not graded. Yes not graded. If we grade mistakes why would a student be encouraged to get back on the bandstand? How amazing would it be if we redefined what a mistake is for our students? This would also mean that the classroom would become a more fluid and dynamic space. You couldn't implement a one size fits all curriculum. You would have to adopt to each student’s "mistakes" and give that student the appropriate feedback.

"We don't micromanage in jazz"
We limit the ability of our students when we only say they can learn one way. I have been challenged recently to let my students come up with their own mastery challenges. Instead of just taking a normal quiz to show learning, students can record a video, teach a lesson, make a rap, or whatever else is in the student’s mind to show learning and mastery. I want to challenge myself not to dedicate just one way to learn math and free my students innate artistic ability.

"Jazz is the science of listening"
The best way I can help my students is to listen to them. That means I need to stop talking. I need to stop being the center of the room. I need to react to mistakes. If I want their learning to get to a certain level of intensity I must make sure I adopt to their needs. I need to remind myself to be patient. I am hoping this will inspire my students to engage more and more, which will eventually take their learning to a whole new level.

"Bandstand is a sacred space. We don't have time to think about the past or the future."
How awesome if students felt like they were not defined by their past mistakes or failures. That also means that our past success do not make you better than someone else. All the students are on the same playing field, the present—the here and now. Nothing else matters except for giving your full attention to the task at hand. Students don't put off until tomorrow what they can do today.

My Pledge:
Never been a jazz fan but I definitely appreciate Jazz a lot more. It has taught me to redefine what a mistake is. I pledge to help redefine what a mistake is by changing the way I interact and teach. I might not be perfect in implementing my pledge but it will only be a mistake if I don't respond to the opportunities that my students give me.


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