Learning Environment

by Heidi Nord September 02, 2016

Learning Environment

Learning Environments and Their Affect on Learning

I was sitting in a resource room (a place where kids are having trouble learning go for extra assistance) at a local school. At the main table sat two teachers. We were waiting for the rest of the teachers and principal to join the meeting.

Every three or four minutes there was a really loud buzz (even louder than a normal bell, I am guessing it was the fire drill) that would BUUUUZZZZZ..... for about ten seconds.

I didn't think anything of it the first time it rang because normally schools have bells, it’s typical.

The second time it rang however, I asked, “Is it normal for that bell to ring so often?”

The teacher explained, “We've been having this problem for a couple of months now and the district sent out a specialist to deal with how to turn it off. But it hasn’t been figured out yet.”

Now, when the bell rang for the third time it put me on my toes because it was extremely loud. I asked, “How can students learn in this room with that bell ringing?”

Oftentimes children with dyslexia have anxiety as well.

(You can read about this in another blog post here.)


Clearly, a ringing bell will cause increased anxiety. It will even cause students who don't have anxiety to be on edge.

Normally, I don't enjoy going to IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meetings. You would think every person there would be focused on student learning, but sometimes the meetings get adversarial.

It might be because some people believe dyslexia is a myth, or that the student should be able to keep up with the rest of the class, or that the student should have to stay in for recess when they don't finish their work.

On the other side of the fence, sometimes advocates will ask for resources above and beyond what the school already has given the student. Or maybe the parent wants the district to pay for private tutoring.

It's safe to say that these meetings can be a challenge, which causes stress for many people at IEP meetings.

When I go into a meeting, I'm not only looking for the different accommodations which will help my students, but I'm also looking to see how teachers interact with their students.

In this case, I was looking at the learning environment. How could my student possibly make educational growth with this loud noise ringing every three minutes in his resource room?

My student had major learning issues, so for him to be subjected to that BUZZing noise every three or four minutes was ridiculous. Even if you had the best teacher using the best program one to one with a student, noise matters.

There are many objectives to look at when evaluating environment such as lighting, supplies, seat placement, behavior expectations, visual cues, smells, and (as in this case) noise.

When the teacher I was speaking at my student’s IEP meeting tried to tell me it was okay for my student to listen to that bell and learn at the same time, I simply didn’t buy it.

All through the meeting, I was bothered by the obnoxious bell, and I’m guessing every student was bothered by it too.

At the end of the day, I want the best possible outcome not for just my students, but for all students. When all students are treated with respect, kindness, equality, and calmness we will be in a much better circumstance for learning to take place.

These ideals are best spread through well-trained teachers, encouraging parents, effective materials, and calm environments. All of these ideals matter to our students and our society.


Heidi Nord

Heidi Nord
Heidi Nord


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