I had never lost my voice before, but yesterday in the late morning, my voice started to get hoarse. By the afternoon, it felt funny, and when I picked my daughters up from daycare, it was just gone. Complete silence. Nothing but whispers. For the first time, my daughter was embarrassed by me, although I’m sure it won’t be the last. And when I woke up this morning, I faced a day of classes where I wouldn’t be able to speak.
I put the following message on my SmartBoard in place of my regular warm up:
I’ve found that students are incredibly empathetic when I’m sick, and really go overboard with trying to be nice. Unfortunately, that often means that they try to be quiet. Well, that may have been great if I’d had a headache. Instead, I just had no voice, and the silence was killing me. I’d put up a paired activity, but everyone was still so quiet. I put a new message up on the board:
Now, if this had been my first few years of teaching, a day without my voice would have been a wasted day. Back then, my teaching style was talk, talk, talk, ask a few questions, talk, talk, watch students work, talk to close. Over time, I learned to focus more on getting students to talk and communicate. Earlier in my career, it was so that I would know what my students were thinking, but my understanding evolved. I wish I knew who to attribute the original idea to, but I’ve heard many times that the person doing the talking is the person doing the thinking. Today was a day that forced my students to do the talking, and although it took some time for them to get going in each class, they eventually settled in and (mostly) stayed on topic.
Today was a gift, and tomorrow looks like it will be as well. Still, I’m looking forward to returning this gift this weekend. My daughter is soooo embarrassed to have a mute daddy picking her up at school, and she’s not even five yet. In her words – “What will my friends think?” Next year, though, maybe I’ll fake this whole laryngitis thing at the beginning of the year, and prep my new students for what it means for them to talk in class.