Day 129, April 15, 2008
Today I got to thinking about how much listening students have to do each day, and how difficult it must get for them. Since I have a hard time listening carefully during a 60-minute faculty meeting, I wonder what it must be like for 13-year-olds to have to listen to teachers talk for six consecutive 48-minute-periods? After a while it must become like the dull drone of background noise, a kind of steady hum that only occasionally catches their attention. For the students, it probably becomes, at times, the proverbial blah-blah-blah, words full of sound but signifying, well, not very much. I need to keep this front-and-center in my mind as I go about my teaching work. My spoken words should be carefully chosen and always economical. Every word I speak should have a specific purpose, and not a single unnecessary word should be spoken. When I've said exactly what I mean, I should be quiet. After all, the students need me to be quiet if they're going to have a chance to speak.
On a related topic, today I was pleased that I usually remembered to refrain from speaking until all the students were silent and attentive. Often I charge right into my next topic while some kids are shuffling papers, whispering, closing books, etc. -- and no doubt those students completely miss some of my words. Today I waited until the room was silent. Perhaps it cost me fifteen seconds now and then, but it was certainly worth it. Words are precious and deserve a thoroughly attentive audience.