One of the marks of an excellent musician is the ability to vary the dynamics within a piece of music. If you listen carefully to some of the best performers in the world, you will notice they get louder and softer – often multiple times within a piece of music. A great teacher knows how to do the same with her class.
A classroom that is always so quiet you could hear a pin drop is the marker of a class who is not experiencing their education. You will find lots of worksheets and lectures, but very little experimenting, hands-on learning or discussion. The children in this class will remember a few things, but not nearly as much as a classroom with a little more noise from a lot more student participation in the learning process.
Walk into a classroom where you can never hear yourself think and you have probably entered a room where the teacher does not have her class under control. I don’t mean a strict Dickens style disciplinarian is needed, but a teacher needs to have students who will immediately respond when she asks for quiet. Too much uncontrolled noise from chit-chatting and goofing off, often means learning isn’t happening at all. Even if the noise is from constant experimentation and hands-on learning, if there are no breaks, there is no time to process what is learned in quiet reflection.
The best teachers, like the best musicians, vary the noise level in their classes. At times, the room will be silent as the teacher prepares students for an activity, tells a life-changing Bible story or shares personal experiences with God in her life. During other times in the class, the room will be alive with the talking of children as they work through a service project, experience a slice of life in Bible times or excitedly share how God is working in their lives. Even in the span of an hour, you may find varying the noise levels multiple times not only keeps your students alert, but also increases learning for both the students who learn best in quiet environments and those who thrive with noise and excitement.
The next time you plan your lesson, proactively plan at least one quiet and one participatory louder part to your class. Can you find a way to alternate and fit in two of each type of noise level? Then take note of how the students react compared to a normal class of all quiet worksheets or all noisy chaos. I think you will be pleased with your students’ reactions and how much more they learn and retain.