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Old 11-30-2012, 03:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Told a group of people to shut up today...

It happened to me but I was in the position of the teacher. I have a student who has a very low tolerance for noise, probably because of concentration problems.

Now, I'm not particularly strict about noise, I'd rather have a class where people chat a little, but also contribute to the class, instead of a class where no one speaks at all (usually in France, it's either the one or the other, which is a problem). So whenever I feel that the noise is getting too high and bothering the most serious students, I ask the loud students to shut up, but I don't do it systematically if there's only a little noise.

Once this student got angry, and she simply stood up and said: "Listen everyone, it's really too loud here, I'm tired of all that noise, so now could you please shut up and let students like me listen to the class? Thank you." Everyone was awestruck, it was actually pretty embarrassing.

To be honest, sometimes, I enjoy seeing students do that, because you feel a little vindicated. It makes you realize that there are a number of students who are interested in listening to you, interested enough to risk being labelled a teacher's pet and so on.
But that time, I did feel embarrassed, because I got the impression that she was doing my job, and thus, I felt a little ridiculous, as if she was doing it because I was not able to do it. Now I'm more careful about the noise, though, and I keep an eye on that student to check if she's showing signs of annoyance I do find it quite brave of her to do that, because unlike you, she obviously did not have any sympathy from the class.

I guess it's my fault for not being harsh enough with the most talkative students. But it's the first time I have had such noisy students, I still haven't thrown anyone out, but I have come very close to doing it for the first time, and I might have to do it soon. The problem is that in France, we have huge groups of about 40 students for so-called "tutorials", so it makes it difficult to deal with noise, given that it doesn't need a group of very loud students, but rather, several groups of students who are just a little loud, it adds up, and they don't realize they're disturbing people. It also makes it more difficult to identify the culprits.
Since tutorials are supposed to be classes where they actually talk, instead of just listening, it's difficult to find a balance between shutting everyone up and having an entirely silent class (which is awful), and encouraging them to talk without also encouraging a little noise in the back of the classroom.
(Also as you said, sometimes when you're at the front, you don't hear the noise that much)

I'll have new groups after January, and once I know what they're like this year, I'll probably need to lecture them about the noise from the start and make it clear that they're supposed to contribute to the class but that in those conditions they need to behave themselves, otherwise I'll have to throw them out.
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