In college, when I was young, had chiseled abdominals, classified myself as a mountain bicyclist, and the world was black and white, I thought that teachers who yelled at their students were ‘bad’ at classroom management, and teachers who didn’t have to yell at their students were ‘good’ at classroom management. Wow. I was what some humans may refer to as ‘an idiotus maximus.’ In case the meaning got lost in translation, that’s fake Latin for ‘a maximum idiot.’ I’m sure a research-based book would have correct Latin translations. All my translations are made up or in the Spanglish that I’ve picked up from my ESL students.
As a slightly more experienced, and much heavier educator without chiseled abdominals, I realize that volume is a valuable tool. Like all tools, volume has very specific applications. Effective teachers can maximize the impact of the volume of their voice. Ineffective teachers tend to get louder and louder as their lessons fail, and then they tend to blame ‘those lazy kids’ who just aren’t as good as last year’s kids, who weren’t as good as the year before, who weren’t as good as the year before, who... You get it.
Good teachers are not quiet, and bad teachers are not loud. Good teachers are in control of their volume, and use it to manage their classroom. Bad teachers let students control their volume, and as such, students use the teacher’s volume to serve their mischievous studently purposes.
Let’s be clear: ‘volume’ does not mean ‘loud’ or ‘yell.’ ‘Volume’ as I use it, refers to the purposeful application of a loud, soft, normal, or anywhere in the infinitely variable preceding spectrum of voice to maximize student attention. Perhaps a brief and universal story that you’ve all experienced will help to illustrate what I mean. Getting students to engage with learning and ask questions, and want answers, is a goal of teachers, and education in general. (Notice the lack of citation. I can’t prove this is true. If you doubt it, ask a teacher.)
So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.