Silence in the classroom

Recently I’ve been thinking about how silent a class is. I reckon there are two types of silence: hardworking busy bees with all pupils engaged in a task that requires independent focus and stunned silence, either through boredom or lack of engagement.

On the flip side, there’s also a variety of noises in the classroom that are not silence: focused and directed conversations with a partner or in small groups, mindless chitchat over nothing, distracted chit chat which grows into low level disruption etc.

I am sure that there are plenty of other types that I have not touched upon but the biggest realisation I’ve had over the last few weeks whilst observing colleagues is that actually I like a low hum of activity in my classrooms and absolute silence has it’s place when I need to give direct instruction or pull a class back together after a non-silent activity.

How do you feel about silence? Does it have a big place in your classroom?



  1. Over the years I’ve found that I in general don’t like silence in my classroom. I need quiet to give instruction and quiet during a test or quiz, but any other time when students are working, I prefer that “low hum of activity” you mentioned.

    Last year I had a big class of 33 during 6th period (last class of the day), and it was always just so *strange* to hear them silent while doing classwork! I ended up trying to get them to talk or work together, but it always just defaulted to silence… Sometimes I guess that’s just the class dynamic, though.

  2. As a “begginer” teacher (it’s only my third year, but it’s the first one with children, i used to teach adults before) i’m a bit obsess with silence and i feel like if the classroom is not silent i’m not doing a good job and the kids can’t learn…I know intellectually that these kids need to express themselves but yet i can’t really let it go…i’m working on it though and observing my experimented colleagues, or reading a blog is helping a lot!!!

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