Get some wisdom teeth pulled and become wiser. I have spent this evening listening instead of talking after visiting the dentist. I have watched clerks in stores speak with softer voices and more sympathetically when I hand them notes instead of cheery chatter. My oldest son actually asked me if I wanted anything (instead of my asking him). My #3 son talked more about his day and his beliefs to fill the silence. My dogs whined and spoke. KitKat has even quieted down. Coincidence? I think NOT.
What if I spent more of my school day listening to the teachers and students? Would I find more students openly sharing? Would a different group of teachers speak up? Would they step up to the plate and take ownership of our library media center?
While teaching in Taiwan years ago, I took a mini-workshop on how to teach when voiceless. It was the best training I ever had. I learned techniques for using my nonverbal skills to coax language from my students. I rely on these skills every year. Who is out there teaching this in American education programs?
Most libraries and classrooms cannot afford those expensive voice projection systems that you wear around your neck. (Although I will admit being wonderfully surprised by hearing every word from a speaker using one). Most teachers and librarians experience laryngitis and hoarseness because they strain their voices and they are surrounded by hundreds of small children with viruses to share. (Did you know that whispering actually strains your vocal cords more than talking?)
I can search and find some interesting articles and a compilation from Jean Clements about amplification systems including the fact that it is actually the distribution of sound that is a problem, not amplification. Makes sense. I can hear most spoken sounds, but lose the highs and lows, especially when I am not lip-reading to fill in the gaps. If there is a great deal of background noise, I panic because I have to strain so hard to concentrate and attempt to "hear."
Recently I have come to rely upon the Closed Captioning Feature of televisions more than ever. As I work individually with the teachers in my school while integrating Safari, I am strongly urging them to turn the closed captioning on whenever possible. Ask your students for testimonials and see how many are shocked at learning they had missed crucial parts of the conversation before CC’ing.
Imagine what else we miss when spend so much of our day talking and telling everyone what they need to know instead of listening to them.