Monday, May 12, 2014


That's one of the things the Grinch, who eventually stole and (spoiler alert) then returned Christmas, couldn't stand in the least: Noise. I'm a teacher, and I get that. Not so much the whole Christmas thing, but the noise part. I spend a good portion of every single day asking, cajoling, begging and pleading children to be quiet. This is in spite of all the research I have read as well as all the anecdotal experience I have had that tells me that a happy classroom is a productive classroom. And sometimes that happiness spills out in peals of childish laughter. This is no coincidence, since the pealing is coming from children who are in my room. When things are going really well, I might even laugh along with them.
Still, I spend an awful lot of time saying the words, "Be Quiet." I try to throw in a "please" and will often toss out a "thank you" when I get the volume level where I hoped it would be. Blessed with what my wife refers to as "teacher voice," sometimes that level is a little louder than that which most people would find conversational, but that's not the point at which I am aiming. I just want them to hear the directions. After that, since they are in the computer lab, they are swallowed up by their headphones and immersed in whatever is going on in the cyberworld in front of them. For thirty of the fifty minutes they are with me, my students don't need me to remind them about noise level.
Maybe this explains the fascination these days with "distance learning." We have just finished a two-week trial of online testing for our grades three through five. Whenever we did our state testing in the past, we were virtually assured of a quiet time. Kids would be hunched over their test booklets, furiously filling in their bubbles, with the earliest finishers turning that same fierce attention to their word searches or the latest installment of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. This year was just a little more intense. All one could hear was the periodic click of a mouse or the pitter patter of tiny fingers across keyboards. It was eerie. It was relaxing.
But not enough to make me want to do that all the time. Kids need to interact with each other and the world around them in a more impactful way than simply pointing and clicking. There should be no kicking or spitting, but the occasional hoot or holler might mean they're getting some usable input. And if the output is noisy, it just means they're alive.

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