Classroom Audio—A Student’s Perception

Studies about the effectiveness of classroom audio systems have been conducted for decades. Research demonstrating the benefits of classroom audio is abundant, accessible, and probably not new to many educators. But do classroom audio systems really make that much of a difference in real-world application? What effect can a system have on the way a student perceives their teacher?

Meet Lizzie

Let me introduce you to Lizzie, my daughter, who is now in seventh grade. Lizzie received an ADHD diagnosis when she was in second grade. She was diagnosed with a learning disability and a significant executive function delay in sixth. She has a hard time reading people and shows signs of anxiety. And school has always been a challenge for her.

Starting at the end of third grade, Lizzie often came home upset because her teacher “yelled at the class” that day. I was surprised by this as I had met her teacher, and she didn’t seem like the yelling type. I would ask clarifying questions, and she would assure me the teacher had yelled. I was concerned but not alarmed, as Lizzie’s understanding of events was not always accurate. This pattern continued through fourth grade.  

No More Yelling

I gained a new understanding of the situation Lizzie’s fifth grade year—that year she never complained about the teacher yelling at the class. Her teacher was nice, like the other teachers that she identified as “yellers,” but Lizzie never came home upset about the teacher yelling. A few months into the school year, I learned about classroom audio systems. Then the lightbulb went off, and I asked my daughter if her teacher wore a microphone.

“Yes, she does.”

Did Mrs. _______ wear a microphone?

“No, she didn’t.”

How about the teacher from the year before?

“No, she didn’t wear a microphone either.”

Lizzie’s Perception

In sixth grade, we were back to stories of the teacher yelling at the class. Once again, when I met the teacher, I couldn’t picture him yelling at the class. But I could picture him raising his voice to speak over a room full of excited students. In Lizzie’s eyes, he was yelling. In Lizzie’s eyes, all her teachers who didn’t wear microphones yelled at the class.

The teachers I know are kind and love their students. They wouldn’t yell at their class in anger, yet that is exactly how my daughter interpreted their “teacher voice.” To her, the class was getting yelled at most days, except for the year her teacher used her teacher microphone. For my daughter, who is sensitive to loud noises and has a hard time focusing, the use of classroom audio completely changed her perception of her teacher and what happened daily in class.