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Leah Thomas

There are, always have been, and always will be moments when chaos rules the classroom. At CoTA we make much talk about the enrichment that creative chaos can bring to a teaching environment, but this does not mean we celebrate all forms of chaos. When the noise and disorder of a classroom begin to drown out productivity rather than encourage it, frustration is a natural response.

I am a certified educator; I remember my lessons on classroom management. Commands like “Class, Class” and mimicking clapping can go a long way, to be sure, but there’s no denying that bringing a new element into a classroom – an art or music or movement project – has the inevitable side-effect of increasing the collective energy of a group of students.

I would hate for this reality to deter any educator from attempting creative work; when this new energy is directed towards collaboration and creation, the results can be rewarding. The last thing we wish to do is put a damper on that.

So how can we address this issue without being so strict that we limit student expression?

Perhaps the arts integration hour should come equipped with its own unique set of rules. For instance, at the beginning of an extended project (with or without a CoTA artist present), a little extra management could go a long way. Something as simple as introducing a bell or a gavel along with the project, as basic as teaching new call-response or a new movement activity to be used explicitly during this project or unit, can reinforce the idea that this work is both specifically important and, potentially, playful. Yes, kids, we’re letting you go wild on the art materials, but the moment you hear that bell, you must be back in your seat, etc.

Yes, we’re having fun here, but we’re also learning.

This lesson is one I’ve learned the hard way, and one I hope can benefit future creative endeavors.