I recently read a colleagues Tweet:
A principal from our system quickly replied:
Andy makes a great point here in that noise should by no means be THE indication of student learning. In a (hopefully) bygone age, Principals could walk the silent halls and peer into classrooms to see rows of compliant and silent students, either hanging on every word of their teacher, or with eyes glued to books. Teachers whose students behaved in this manner were known as good teachers.
When Andy walks the halls now, he is more likely to see students collaborating in groups and learning from each other, while the teacher circulates and teaches mini-lessons as required to a much more captive audience then in days gone by. Students are much more apt to retain information when it fills a cognitive gap. For more info and research on Cognitive Gaps, see Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath.
Here are my concise thoughts on noise:
What are your thoughts on noise levels in class?