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Is My Class Too Loud?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

How do you know when the noise level in your class is too loud? What would your principal think if they dropped by?

Short answer: When you start to feel your adrenaline level beginning to rise, your comfort zone has been exceeded. That is too much noise for you.

Each teacher has a noise level that is comfortable for them. While it is not reasonable to expect students to sit still

and be silent all period (well, maybe during a test), there is "working talk" and "off-task talk."

How can you tell the difference? Off-task talking sounds different because it is more chaotic. "Working talk" sounds more controlled, measured and business-like. It's not that students won't laugh or enjoy themselves but they are working so their "on task" talking sounds good to a teacher's ears.

When the talk in your classroom starts to sound more like kids at lunch in a cafeteria then it is probably "off-task" talking. This is the time to stop students and let them know that their talking is not o.k.

Here are some strategies that I tried, tested and that worked well for me:

1) Don't wait until you're already feeling angry. Try and catch the noise level before you get to that point.

2) Observe carefully to see where the off-task talking is coming from and go to those students first. The other students may be working and get frustrated it you stop the entire class. Usually if you address the louder students first and address their issue then you won't have to stop the entire class.

3) So, what do you do to "address" the issue?

a. See what is stopping the louder students from working. Are they confused? Are these

students not a good match for each other and it's time to change the student

grouping? Does their topic need to be tweaked a little to engage them more?

b. If there is conflict in the group then coach this team in how to work with different

personality types. The solution could be as simple as reassigning roles.

c. Is there enough work for each student? Maybe one student thinks the job

is done and so is off-task.

d. If there are some students that have continual behavior problems and they are not

going to work no matter what you do (frustrating) then I have often given these

students a different way to earn credit. This could be a text book assignment, a

reading with a report or a challenge test. Typically, once presented with the alternative

options, most students will find your original assignment more appealing and get to

work. If this fails, then it is time to call home and get parents/guardians involved.

You've already tried multiple strategies at this point so reaching out to parents is

the next step.

4) If the entire class is off-task and loud but the project is solid then for your sanity, set a

timer and require total silence for 5 minutes. This is heavenly. The moment, and I mean

THE moment that even ONE student breaks this silence, reset the timer and start over for

another five minutes. This has worked like a charm for me to lower my heart rate,

breathing rate and give me some time to regroup. Many of your students will appreciate

this quiet time as well. This is like pushing a reset button for the class. You may only have

1 or 2 periods that tend to get loud like this but that's normal. If ALL your classes need

this then there might be something else going on. They may not be engaged in the

assignment (they need to be "hooked" in), the work may be too hard or too easy for

them, or there is something going on, on campus that has them over stimulated that

day. Either way. They need to get back on task and requiring some silent time really


Final Thought: The noise level in your classroom must be right for your comfort level. You may feel o.k. about a little more or less than another teacher but it is your classroom and as long as students are working and learning, the level must fit you.

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