Sunday, April 22, 2012


Friday was the National Day of Silence, "a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools."  This is the second year in a row since I've taught at my school where the event was highly publicized and many of the staff and students participated.  I'm one of the teacher facilitators of our school's Gay-Straight Alliance; the kids have been working hard for the past several weeks to organize a "week of awareness" around Friday's event.  We've even invited a collection of outside speakers to come in this Wednesday to have a panel discussion around LGBT issues for the whole student body.  I'm proud of the organizing the kids have done--it's fun to watch their efforts ripple across the school.

Aside from the activism aspect of Friday, I was once again reminded of how much I enjoy teaching when I am unable to talk.  Initially the kids are excited because they hope class will be a free-for-all, but almost immediately they settle into our long-established routines and class runs even more smoothly than it does on any other typical day.  My silence encourages their silence, and a collective effort is born to interpret my directions.  Plus, by this point in the year they are well aware of my expectations, and so a simple, stern look from me will halt any misbehavior that might begin.  I can write a question on the board and the kids know how to lead their own discussion, they know how to put themselves in groups and focus on an assignment, and they're great at answering each others' questions when anyone is confused.  I love watching them function like this with almost no input from me.

As well as I know my students by April, I forget how well they know me, too.  My favorite moment in the day might have been as I was dismissing one class to lunch.  I opened the door and motioned into the hall, indicating that they could leave, and in the silent room one boy suddenly voiced what I must say almost daily: "Goodbye my loves.  Have a good lunch."  I maintain that laughing is still permissible during a day of silence--at least I hope it is, because I laughed hard in that moment.

In other news, I ran nine miles yesterday.  I was nervous before the run because of the distance, and because I was planning to run a new route and I more often than not make a wrong turn and end up who knows where.  But, I didn't make any wrong turns and I ran the whole nine miles at just under my goal race pace, so felt joyous when I had finished.  Upon returning home I listened to these seven songs loud and on repeat to celebrate.  I invite you to do the same.

Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye
This Sweet Love – James Yuill
Ritual Union (Maya Jane Coles Remix) – Little Dragon
Tenuousness – Andrew Bird
Until We Bleed – Kleerup
Everlasting Light – The Black Keys

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