How to manage a noisy class without using your voice

When Jasmine Hill met her new class, she was astonished at how loud they were – and set about creating a tool to fix the problem
14th October 2021, 12:00pm

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How to manage a noisy class without using your voice

https://www.tes.com/magazine/teaching-learning/primary/how-manage-noisy-class-without-using-your-voice
How To Manage A Noisy Class Without Using Your Voice

When I visited my new class at the end of the last academic year, I quickly realised that they were incredibly loud and chatty. I completely understand that children talk and, while I don’t expect complete silence, I could see children were becoming distracted and a lot of them could not concentrate on their work in the environment being created. 

Personally, I like to put on relaxing mindfulness music in the background while children are learning to create a calming environment and, knowing how much low-level noise and disruption would interrupt this, I decided I’d need to implement a tool to control the noise levels. The class has varying needs, so it needed to be something visual and simple. 


More on behaviour: 


When it came to choosing a system, there was so much inspiration on Twitter and Instagram, and I knew it needed to be to the point and easy to understand. I’d seen systems that used an arrow to point at what the expected sound level was but I decided to trial using lights to ensure children could clearly see the expectations, and make it even more appealing visually. 

I started off with a blank display positioned near my desk at the front of the classroom. I printed off the noise level indicators, enlarged them to A3, laminated it and then attached them to my display with Blu Tack. I bought the lights off Amazon and they came with sticky pads that attach to the back (I also had to buy the batteries that fit inside each light; each one requires 3 AAAs). I then positioned a light next to each indicator and stuck them to the board - they’re really easy to use as you push them in the centre for the light to turn on. They are rather bright, however, so I thought about using cellophane over them to dim them slightly.

 

Noise management: how to implement the tool

I introduced it on the very first day and included it in our welcome PowerPoint. I explained each level in-depth so children were aware of the expectations and implemented it from the beginning. I ensured that other adults working in my classroom knew about the system and they understood the importance of all using it to ensure consistency. I use it every day during every lesson to ensure children are fully understanding of the noise level. I also ensure it is used appropriately so children know that it can also be used positively, for example “loud and proud” is on when we are singing or children are reading their work out. 

The children had never used a noise-management tool before, so I was uncertain how they’d react. They’ve responded well to the system and it has worked well for me to simply press the light on, rather than having to repeat myself about noise disruption. If I forget, a lot of the children actually remind me to put it on, which I think has been rather telling. Some of the adults in class have expressed how well the children are doing and how much quieter and less disruptive they are as a whole.

Although not up to scratch 100 per cent yet, the children are working really well with it and they love to put the “loud and proud” level on. I would recommend it to other teachers to use, simply to save your voice and to allow the children in your class to have access to a simple, visual indicator of their noise level.

Jasmine Hill is a Year 3 teacher in England

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