I never used to be quiet. My classroom was filled with noise from the moment the students arrived until they left. Whether it was me lecturing, me giving out directions, me keeping them on track, or even a soundtrack of music to keep them motivated, we just didn’t do quiet. We were loud, we were active, and there was always chatter.
One night, as I yelled at my husband to turn off his music so that I could concentrate on writing, it finally dawned on me. Perhaps my students didn’t need more noise, perhaps they needed more quiet. Perhaps I needed to stop talking, perhaps I needed to stop playing the music. Perhaps I needed to embrace the quiet and let it speak for itself. Perhaps I needed to be quiet so my students could start speaking.
Now, we are quiet when we need to be. During reading, you will hear hushed conversations, during writing it is almost silent. I keep my discussions short. I try to pull my voice out of the conversation so that my students can figure it out among themselves. When a child faces me with a problem I sit quietly and think with them, trying to come up with a solution. When a child is the most unruly and angry, my lower voice and quiet words often diffuse the situation better than any punishment ever could.
Sure there are words, but the quiet now emphasizes them. No longer do I feel the need to constantly yell over the noise (unless we are doing science!). No longer do I feel the need to bark out orders. Sure there are instructions being given, but there is also quiet so they can figure it out. Quiet so they can think. Quiet so they can just be.
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.