Answering with the results:
At first this was awesome. Then some kids delighted in the fact that they were better than me at something and decided this meant they ran things, not me. Not all, but enough to cause problems.
In a more structure environment I do find that this works beautifully and highly recommend it — both in extracurricular and classroom use. In a classroom it’s such a novelty for students that it tends to really enliven them — whether it’s for a speech, an instructional writing assignment, a language assignment, etc.
What turned out to work with this particular group, which is full of drama and negative attitudes and explosive tempers, is letting them experiment with something and letting them know that whatever they’re using is really prime materials that they have to be careful with. They see it as a big deal that they’re being trusted enough to use them. Art pens, ukuleles…it might also be that they see something cool that I do and want to do it, so they jump on the chance to do so. They just have to think it’s cool enough, and I can’t make the offer, they have to initiate. I offered to give a salsa lesson and everyone made faces, but over the last two days I’ve had two students try to mimic and then ask for me to show them how when I was salsa dancing in the hall.
I actually don’t know what it is that’s working yet. But I ALMOST sounded like I do, right? It’s all a big game of trial and error right now. I’ve never been in this kind of a situation before, and it’s bizarre.