This is what I said to Sarah Marsh of the Guardian when she asked me about low level disruption in classrooms. The link to the article is here
It's not always the case that a silent classroom, or even a quiet classroom, is a good classroom. Narrating and articulating thoughts and actions can be a valuable part of the learning process for some children, and for many adult learners, too. And of course, what's 'disruptive' by some people's definition isn't disruptive for other people.
If we think about the importance of process and of praxis in educating young people to become valuable citizens, engaging in worthwhile and fulfilling activities, we'd surely expect some chatter and moving about by learners to go with those ideas about the nature of curriculum.
It's sometimes hard, when you are in a classroom, to judge whether and when noise and activity are constraining or hindering others' learning - or even the learning of the individual himself or herself. Sometimes, it's almost impossible to make that judgement. Sometimes (by no means always), low level disruption is an indicator of students not being engaged, perhaps because of the lesson content or mode of delivery. But it can also be an indicator of the time of day, day of the week, or even of the weather. Or of pupils being tired, hungry (sometimes chronically so), or disaffected as a result of the interplay of a myriad complex factors. Or, of them being interested, engaged, and enjoying themselves.
Working as I have done for years with NQTs and in initial teacher education, I would say that 'behaviour management' is one of the hardest things for beginning teachers to 'get right'. And of course, as lifelong learners, we are always developing our knowledge and skills in this area; and we are always trying to ensure that we see each child as an individual, who lives in a social context (family, friends, etc) as well as in a wider political context, where sometimes 'being quiet' is seen as desirable, perhaps because a 'banking' model of education is being promulgated, where children are passive banks for knowledge. If we think that, then we may be less tolerant of chat, moving around and children being actively involved in their learning than if we reject that kind of model of education.
I was a psychology and social sciences teacher for many years and now I am in the throes of a teaching and research career in HE. I care passionately about education. This blog will show you why and how.