Students may find it difficult to be in a classroom due to the noise level from the activities and other sounds, such as the heater, lighting, and overhead projector.  Educators need to take these potential distractions into consideration when planning classroom space and location.  A reduction in noises will allow all students to learn in a more comfortable auditory environment.

Many things can be done reduce noise.  The goal of the teacher is to limit hard surfaces that can cause sounds to echo.  By covering these surfaces, the teacher will eliminate some of the background noise that may interfere with the hearing of the students.  Easterbrooks (1998) and Ratcliffe (2004) noted that some of the ways to reduce sound include:

  • Cover tile floors with carpet
  • Put rubber tips on the legs of chairs
  • Cover tables with cloths
  • Place acoustic tiles on walls
  • Hang thick curtains
  • Make sure lights and other equipment are in good working order
  • Shut doors and windows when outside noises are present.

By making these accommodations in the classroom, the students should be able to focus more on the teacher’s voice and less on the varying noises throughout the classroom.

In addition to modifying the environment, careful consideration needs to be made as to where the classroom is located, when lessons and instructions are to be given, and how the students will work individually and in groups.  Room location is vital to how much background noise will be generated.  A classroom located next to a gym or cafeteria may prove to be too noisy and cause all students to lose focus or have difficulty hearing the teacher’s voice. 

If it is not possible to locate a classroom where there will be minimal outside noise, the teacher needs to take into consideration the movement of students near the classroom when planning lessons.  It would not benefit the students to give important instructions while other students are moving about the hallways.  The teacher needs to plan the instructional time when there is the least amount of noise creating distractions.  The teacher also needs to plan the working time of the students so that group discussions and individual work do not interfere with each other, causing too much background noise in the classroom (Anderson, 2001; Ratcliffe, 2004).

Group discussions are another source for noise within the classroom that can diminish listening ability.  While working in groups, students need to be reminded to be conscious of the loudness of their voices so as not to distract other groups who are working.  They also need to follow many of the same rules as the teacher does for speaking, such as:

  • Speaking naturally
  • Keeping hands away from their mouths
  • Identifying who is going to speak next
  • Allowing only one person to speak at a time
  • Arranging the group so everyone can see each other
  • Requiring  students to ask for clarification

These rules will help to aid in discussions in the classroom and to eliminate some of the distracting background noise (NDCS, 2004).  The teacher may also want students to report back to the class on their group’s discussion.  They can display the information on a piece of large paper, allowing all students to benefit from seeing and hearing the information (BCME, 2001).