Can a classroom be too noisy? As educators does the level of noise indicate a positive sign of collaborative learning? Are our students discussing the learning objective or are they discussing last night’s television programmes or the performance of their favourite football team! The noise we can hear, we hope is it the sound of learning, which brings us onto what is an acceptable level of noise in a classroom and how does this impact of the educational process?
Students unfortunately do not come with a volume control, so how can we as educators keep the level of noise to a satisfactory level. Noise levels within corridors can be excessive so to reduce the sound level, I stand at the classroom door and greet my students and politely remind the students to quieten down – this can be done my simply putting my finger to my lips. Within the lesson having a strategy to control the volume and not raising your voice louder to talk over the noise is important, reflecting on the many strategies tried over the years, I have found by reducing the volume of my voice will make the students lower their volume to hear you.
Controlling the volume on group work, peer assessment and presentations can be challenging, walking around the classroom and reminding the students of what is an acceptable level always seems an arduous task but after a while and with encouragement the students themselves will enforce a ‘suitable’ level. Having and managing a strategy that allows students to listen to their own personal music through headphones can be challenging on many levels, this would require the lecturer to monitor the impact on the student and if there are any adverse effects on the other learners.
Model the voice level that you wish the students to use, within the classrooms and within vocational workshop areas, install signs that highlight what is an acceptable volume for that classroom or workshop area. There are various technological solutions to help manage the noise level within a classroom, ‘Noise Down’ is a classroom App that measure’s the noise in the class and gives an audible and visual signal to show the level of student noise.
Good luck and let’s hope the only noise you hear within your classroom is the sound of learning!