I like playing music while my students are working. It changes the entire feeling of the room when the dominant sound is neither my voice nor the keyboards clicking.
I don't DJ, though. Taking students' requests can wreak havoc on a studious space.
There is a key to good classroom working music. It has to be backgroundable. The kind of music you can enjoy listening to without fully listening, because you're actually writing something important. The kind you can't sing along to. The kind that's secondary to the other things in your brain.
I asked Lamar Shambley, a fellow educator who is also my friend and a music nerd, to share a playlist he uses in his Brooklyn classroom.
Lamar would basically be the math teacher of your dreams. He is passionate and full of life and energy, and I imagine his classroom is a semi-magical land where students aren't afraid to get excited and nerdy. Which, if you ask me, is the best way to be.
During his musical work times, Lamar tends to play entire albums, which is a sensible practice for keeping the energy and mood of the room consistent. Here are his favorites:
Thank you for sharing your classroom sounds, Mr. Shambley! I know what my writing lab will be listening to as we close out the school year.
Interested in contributing a classroom playlist? Email me your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.