Integrating Audio Systems in Modern Classrooms

Classroom audio systems offer many benefits to schools. They have been shown to positively affect student achievement and engagement, as well as reduce fatigue and vocal strain for teachers. Some might argue that audio systems don’t offer the same benefits in today’s classrooms where traditional seating is shifting to flexible seating and teachers don’t just lecture at the front of the room. How does classroom audio fit into new learning environments? How can teachers use today’s technology in conjunction with classroom audio to enhance the learning experience?

Changes in Modern Classrooms

Teachers used to spend much of their day sharing information with their class at the front of the room, but teaching methods are changing. Teachers act as facilitators of learning, talking to the class as a whole, visiting with small groups, or working with individual students. More class time is dedicated to students working on their own or in small groups, and students spend more time in front of the class presenting what they’ve learned during research and projects. With the classroom environment changed so much, how do microphones fit into the mix?

Some of these changes make it even more important for teachers to have a microphone and audio system. As teachers move around the classroom and as student seating varies, teachers can’t face all the students all the time. With a classroom audio system, students can hear the teacher, even if facing away from them. When teachers need to talk to the class during or after small group work, having their voice distributed throughout the classroom makes it easier for everyone to hear a call to attention. And when students are sharing their work with the class, they can use the teacher microphone or a separate handheld microphone to make sure everyone can hear them.

Innovative Technology

The advancement of technology in today’s classrooms provides additional options when using classroom audio systems. With a computer and classroom microphone, teachers can use lecture capture—software that allows the teacher to capture a desktop recording along with their voice from the microphone. Then, they can share the lesson with students who are sick, away for extra-curricular activities, or hospital homebound, helping students keep up with classroom work.

Schools can integrate interactive displays with their classroom audio systems. These displays offer striking visuals, but their sound is not always clear, nor does it always carry well. With audio system integration, sound from presentations and videos can be distributed throughout the classroom, making multimedia more enjoyable for everyone.

Today’s classroom setups and teaching methods are always evolving, but classroom audio systems still offer many benefits for teachers and students. As teachers use them to enhance their own voice or the voices of their students, lessons can be more engaging and understandable for everyone in the room. As technology is integrated, teachers can take advantage of options like lecture capture software to help absent students keep up. With the increase of multimedia use in classrooms, audio systems can also optimize that audio to make it more engaging for everyone. 

Employee Spotlight: Patrick Sobak, Territory Sales Representative

Patrick Sobak spent 13 years working as an educator and with educators before he came to Audio Enhancement. His experience in education helps him understand many of the challenges that today’s teachers face. Patrick values education and knows the importance of making it as effective as possible.

Patrick grew up watching and admiring the difference his mom made as a teacher. When he went to college, Patrick got a job working with children and discovered he loved working with kids. That was when he knew he wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a teacher, too.

Joys and Challenges of Teaching

Patrick taught math, science, and social studies to fifth and sixth graders for six years in South Carolina. When asked what his favorite part of teaching was, he had a hard time choosing. He loved the students, especially his 5th and 6th graders. He loved getting to know a new group of students each year and watching them grow and learn. He loved that each day was different with different opportunities.

 Of course, every job has its challenges. The demanding schedule and lack of time were the hardest things for Patrick. He often felt like he worked two jobs—teaching the students during the school day, then grading papers, talking to parents, and prepping lessons in the afternoon and evening. Patrick also felt they lacked time to fully cover standards and still discuss certain subjects at a deeper level. Experiencing this struggle helped him understand how important it is to ease the burden on teachers and make classrooms as efficient as possible.

Working With Educators

When Patrick left teaching, he did so to work with educators on a different level—with education software. He enjoyed the opportunity to help school districts get software that would serve their needs and then help teachers implement it. When it was time for Patrick to move away from the software industry, he chose to sell Audio Enhancement products because, “I’d heard many great things about Audio Enhancement and the products speak for themselves.”

Because Patrick has been in the shoes of teachers, he understands how helpful it is to lighten their load. Teachers have a taxing job with very little downtime—any chance to make their lives and jobs easier is valuable. One product he feels can help significantly is a classroom audio system. They help relieve stress on teachers’ voices because the teachers don’t have to talk so loudly all day. Additionally, the system offers benefits in improving student behavior, which also eases teacher stress.

We are grateful to have dedicated employees like Patrick Sobak, who care about educators and the challenges they face.

5 Ways to Encourage Student Voice

Lineup of students representing student voice

Young people possess a unique perspective on the world that can enlighten adults. These students are the “customers” of our schools and possess insight into the support they need for healthy development. We give students a voice in school when we listen to their ideas and provide opportunities for them to enact change in their education. When we support student voice, it strengthens students’ confidence and helps them discover their unique skills.

How then do we involve students more in their education and help them become active contributors to their own learning? We found five different ideas.

Student debates and classroom discussions

An organized debate or classroom discussion opens up opportunities for students to share their perspective and ideas with their peers and teacher. For quieter students, brainstorming sessions offer a low-pressure way to get involved. Providing a student microphone can give those students more courage to speak up and give their input.

Incorporate student surveys and feedback

Specifically asking students for their input on their educational experience shows them that we value their opinions. They can give feedback on how the school is functioning overall or even just about their experience with the latest unit in their classroom. Some students desire more involvement and could conduct a study and assessment of the school. With their unique perspective, students’ findings provide valuable insight into schoolwide processes and policies.

Student participation in meetings that apply to them

Educators can involve students in meetings that pertain to them. Rather than talking about a student in an IEP, including that student and talking TO them can help them invest more in their education. Students can lead parent conferences, setting their own goals and discussing areas where they’d like to improve. Students can also participate in education conferences—some even present at these conferences!

Provide opportunities for creative expression

Students may take a more active role in their education when given the option for creative expression in their schoolwork. They can choose to present their efforts through art, essays, or presentations. Additionally, project-based learning and genius hour provide opportunities for students to direct their own learning and explore their own interests.  

Nurture student leadership

We easily spot leaders in the outgoing, outspoken kids, but students demonstrate leadership in other ways. Some students excel at teaching and mentoring other students. Others volunteer in their school and community. All forms of leadership deserve recognition and add value to a school community.

“When schools give students the agency and the tools to speak out, the effects can resonate across students’ lives.” –Leah Shafer

Students are not just future problem-solvers. They can make their schools, communities, and world better today. They just need the opportunity to speak up and have their voices heard.

5 Behavior Management Tips for the Classroom

Students working in a classroom

Students misbehaving can interrupt learning and frustrate teachers, yet it occurs daily. Teachers react to bad behavior in different ways, using different disciplinary actions, directing attention elsewhere, or even ignoring the behavior. Whatever the reaction, the question remains, “How can I manage misbehavior in my classroom?” You can find dozens of tips for effective classroom management, but we wanted to share five general strategies:

  • Assume the best: Assume students want to learn and participate. Assume they want to be there. Assume they want to learn good behavior and take advantage of opportunities to teach such behavior. “Assuming the best is an underlying orientation that enables us to treat both our students and ourselves with respect and dignity.” Eventually, student behavior begins to reflect positive assumptions from their teachers.
  • Teach students how to better manage themselves: When students become self-regulated learners, they are more likely to stay focused and less likely to provide distractions for other students. Taking time to teach skills like listening and focusing can help students become more disciplined and self-regulated.
  • Provide a safe, structured classroom:A structured classroom often translates to a safe classroom, one where students can enjoy themselves and focus on learning.” Start on day one with clear rules and expectations. Set expectations high but keep goals attainable. Hold students accountable for their actions and be sure to hold yourself to the same standard.
  • Provide effective consequences: To increase the effectiveness of consequences, it may help to wait until emotions have settled, and you’ve had time to think of a creative consequence. Be sure to follow-up with the consequence, but do it privately and with empathy.
  • Offer all students equal opportunity to learn: If students aren’t able to hear what’s being taught, they can become disengaged and distracted. Installing Classroom Audio Systems and reducing environmental noise gives all students the opportunity to hear and learn. 

We’d like to hear from you. Have you tried any of these techniques? What’s a strategy you’ve found works well in your classroom?

Spotlight School—South Lake Elementary

At Audio Enhancement, we value our relationships with educators. We also strive to develop solutions that can resolve challenges that schools face on a daily basis. That is why we’re thrilled to hear of success stories like South Lake Elementary School in Florida.

South Lake Elementary serves students in Brevard County Public Schools. After closing its doors in 2013, the school district recently renovated it. In August 2018, the school reopened as a choice school focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Part of that renovation included installation of Audio Enhancement’s EPIC System™, an intercom, paging, and bells system, and Classroom Audio Systems.

Jennifer Brockwell, South Lake’s principal, has worked in education for 15 years. Her experience in education, especially as an administrator, has shown her some of the major difficulties educators face when managing their school’s communication systems. Changing bell schedules generally requires a work order or is a complicated process. Staff often resort to walking messages to classrooms when the paging system isn’t working properly. In emergency situations, communication can break down and precious time can be lost.  

EPIC System

In an attempt to minimize or eliminate these difficulties, Ms. Brockwell decided to order EPIC System. Her hopes included a user-friendly program that would give her control over bell schedules and the ability to make changes as needed. Her reaction after only four months of using EPIC System? “The system indeed far exceeded my expectations. It’s extremely user friendly and non-intimidating.” Teachers also appreciate the system, reporting, “I love how we can change the bells. The paging system sounds clear.”

An additional benefit she found is the ability to prerecord messages. Whether for assisting with the Pledge of Allegiance on a busy morning or covering a drill when Ms. Brockwell is unavailable, an audio file is ready to play. These recordings ensure the school can run smoothly, even in her absence.

EPIC System also includes the benefit of SAFE System™. Emergency situations require quick and effective communication, and with SAFE System, school adminstration can receive immediate notifications. As Ms. Brockwell explains, “When it comes to safety, minutes count.”

Classroom Audio

In addition to EPIC System, South Lake installed Classroom Audio Systems. Teachers shared that all the students can hear them, and they don’t have to speak as loudly. “I like that all of my students can hear me with no problem. They seem to pay attention more and respond well when I use the microphone. I really like it!” One teacher pointed out how it helped when calling for cleanup and getting students to hear during lineup when the noise level is higher.

Teachers also noticed that some students participate and speak up more when using the Mic360™ in conjunction with the classroom system. One teacher said, “It has benefited my students that have difficulty projecting their voice. I have a student that is more willing to participate in classroom discussions, utilizing the [Mic360], because she will not be asked to repeat herself or to speak up.”

Audio Enhancement wants to enhance education and ease the difficulties educators face, whether it’s with schoolwide communication or classroom audio systems.  We are grateful to partner with schools like South Lake Elementary in accomplishing that goal for their faculty, staff, and students.

People Over Products—A 40-Year Passion

From the start of Audio Enhancement, the focus has been on people, not products. Claudia Anderson founded the company as a result of her focus on helping her two hard-of-hearing sons succeed in school. She pioneered the concept of sound amplification in the classroom which enhanced learning for students in schools across the country. Today, her son and the company’s CEO, Jeff Anderson, continues to run the company centered on people and how Audio Enhancement can help them. Continue reading “People Over Products—A 40-Year Passion”

Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Farias—Why I became a teacher

There are over three million teachers in the U.S., and they all have a reason for doing what they do. Teachers understand the importance of their role in students’ lives and in shaping tomorrow’s generation, and they work hard to make that impact a positive one. Although teachers realize how vital the profession is, they all have their individual motives as to why they decided to become a teacher.

Jose Farias began his teaching career in August of 2017, and is teaching 7th and 8th grade Reading classes at Joel P. Jensen Middle School in West Jordan, Utah. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching from Brigham Young University, he was anxious to begin his teaching career and to learn right along with his students.

A Love for Learning and Teaching

“I developed this love for learning and teaching in school. I was always a good student because I cared about my grades. Being successful was a big priority in my life because of my upbringing. It also helped that I naturally enjoyed learning more information in every subject,” Farias said.

Farias also stated that learning was enjoyable because of the great teachers he had. He remembers a particular teacher from the 6th grade, Ms. Borgen. “Her class was always so effective, and entertaining as well. I remember wanting to be a teacher like her,” he recalled.

Mr. Farias is a teacher simply because he loves to teach. He is passionate about the subjects he teaches, like grammar, reading, and writing. He likes the satisfaction of having his students improve in those areas and giving them an education that matters. Farias wants his students to not only be good at those skills, but also be inspired to learn more. He loves getting to know his students and building a close relationship with them so he can truly help them, especially those who are the most disruptive and may be struggling the most.

Being a teacher, however, comes with its challenges as well. Farias stated that he did not expect teaching to be so exhausting. “It’s fun, but you get really tired,” he said. “It’s a lot of energy to put in.”

Working Through the Challenges

Farias shared how he kept going through the first couple of weeks teaching. “Working through exhaustion is difficult, but I find that taking time for myself has been the biggest help. Besides coffee and sleep, taking some time to just relax and give my brain a break makes me feel better. I’m usually more mentally than physically exhausted, so giving myself time to breathe is the best. I’ve also started using a microphone in my class for the sake of my voice. It definitely makes me less tired by the end of the day because I don’t have to yell or raise my voice.”

Joel P. Jensen Middle School is equipped with Audio Enhancement’s Classroom Audio Systems, which allows teachers to speak through a microphone to distribute their voice evenly throughout the classroom.

Mr. Farias hopes to have his students show improvement in their reading levels. “If they are really low level or really high level, I want all my kids to improve this year. Wherever they are, even just a few notches, I want them to learn more. That’s my goal.”

He also stated that a characteristic every teacher needs to have to succeed is love. “To be a teacher, you have to be a very loving person. That’s it. You really have to love what you do and you have to really love the people you work with. The teachers, the kids, the boss. You have to be really loving and really open. You have to care.”

We thank Mr. Farias and the many teachers around the world who are passionate about what they do; who work through their exhaustion to make a difference in many students’ lives; and who love and care every day.

Fidgeting: The new key to success in the classroom?

As discussed in our Classroom Audio blog, classrooms are noisy. In addition to the myriad of mechanical and environmental sounds, there’s often a symphony of pen clicks, squeaky chairs, tapping feet, bouncing knees, and all sorts of small noises. These motions, defined as “fidgets,” can seem like a distraction from the learning environment and something that needs to be stopped. Continue reading “Fidgeting: The new key to success in the classroom?”