Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Singstar Competition

It's interesting to see those that are willing to put themselves out there for kids, those that aren't and those that can't.  I've run Singstar competitions at the end of term 1 for a number of years.  I do it for a number of reasons:

  • We don't have a music programme at our school, and it gives kids an outlet to express themselves
  • It encourages students to make a fool of themselves and know there is no lasting consequence
  • It's an opportunity to teach empathy - laughing with, not at
  • It builds confidence for shy kids, who over a number of years learn to have a go
  • It's an opportunity to talk about why building confidence is important
  • It's class building
  • It builds school spirit
  • Students I don't teach get to see us have fun and the learning environment I expect (mildly chaotic but productive).
  • It's a but of fun

Bridges get built during these lessons where students that don't perform academically are allowed to shine and it provides a talking point with those that can perform.  There is a purpose to it, a pastoral care activity with real academic outcomes.  We know from past experience that classes that participate are more willing to ask seemingly "stupid" (to them) questions and resolve issues quickly rather than hiding at the back of a room.  If I can sing in front of peers, then I can ask a peer of the class a question that everybody might need to know.

Our principal had a go at David Bowie, TA's had fun (best Math's lesson ever supposedly!), one of the other maths teachers beat his highest score of 850 (he doubled his previous best), an English teacher was mildly inappropriate but very humorous.. and my poor prac student looked like she was going to die when she was gently "encouraged" to have a go.  Our chaplain went white as a sheet when asked by 60 students to sing.  One of the deputies ran in fear.  I don't know if that was the best role modelling - but it was funny.

I was giving rewards to students randomly, to those that wouldn't normally perform (although I endeavoured to not make this obvious).  One performing/drama student felt that she deserved one and had a wee tanty when I declined.  It's interesting that students still believe that they deserve a reward for doing something that they enjoy rather than for something that extends them.  I felt like quoting the workers in the vineyard parable to her.  They're my rewards, I can give them to winners, losers and anyone inbetween.  The tanty showed an area we can work on before they go into the workforce and forever feel hard done, yet not knowing underlying strategic reasons for rewards!  Take pleasure in what is given - enjoy the pleasure others get by being rewarded.  Resentment is not a good path to be on.

The great thing is, from year 8 to year 12, by the end of each period the majority of students wanted to have a go and it identified those that could benefit from some leadership training to extend themselves.  I was later told that you could hear the better part of 60 students singing, enjoying themselves from 50m away outside the school.  It's days like this that remind you of why you teach.

Five hours and five classes is a bit much to do on my own, with typically 60 students in a room each time.  By the end of the day my head was throbbing.  Being careful to limit the songs that students can use, I would heartily recommend it, though be aware it may take a couple of years to create groups in the school that can "get the party started", a PS3 and about $500 worth of songs/microphones/CDs.

Knowing the quality of the singing I would always suggest turning the mics down to zero ;-)

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