Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert. At home, I enjoy going many hours without any sound: no music, no TV, no nothing. Quiet soothes me and makes me feel at peace.
Then why am I teacher?
That’s a good question. There’s very little quiet at school. Hallways are loud, classrooms are loud, students are loud, everything is loud.
Noise is hard to escape, even during my prep periods. There’s no space to hide. Teachers at our school have to share classrooms. I love my room partner, but when she’s teaching, I wear heavy-duty ear muffs. There I am on the right! The ear muffs reduce sound (by about 30 decibels) but unfortunately don’t eliminate it.
Noise is hard to escape, even during silent classroom activities. Today, during our timed writing, it was impossible to drown out the noise of the middle school’s PE classes. (We share a building with another school.) Shutting all the windows wouldn’t have made things silent; it would’ve just led to more stuffiness in the classroom. Maybe I need to supply my students with ear plugs?
If I seem like a quiet freak, maybe I am. I know that I crave calm more when I feel irritated or stressed. With the end of the semester coming quickly, perhaps my quest for quiet comes from heightened anxiety or a decreased sense of effectiveness.
But I also know that quiet is good for students. On days where there is a calm flow, students are more engaged. There’s more time and space to think deeply. Scattered and jittery feelings disappear, and all that’s left is students’ learning.
There are different ways to learn, of course, and sometimes, it’s good to be loud. But reading and writing usually like a more tranquil space. The problem is, I’m pretty certain that it’s nearly impossible to achieve quiet in my classroom for any prolonged period.