The house is quiet, with the only sound being the clicking of my fingernails on the keyboard on my laptop. There is no extraneous noise from the television, as the full bloom of the ever growing maple tree has impacted the satellite signal. As I begin my evening ritual of scrolling through my Twitter feed and Facebook pages, the silence is suddenly broken by a loud crash of thunder and the room lights up with a streak of lightning ~ a much needed spring shower is upon us. As if purposefully planned (or one of those serendipitous moments) I come across a reference to Susan Cain’s Quiet, “Everyone shines, given the right lighting”. Yesterday in our Cognitive Coaching session, we were also reminded that “the person we don’t hear is the person we need to hear from” from the same book. As someone who, at times, can be the quietest at the table, I begin to wonder if we appreciate those quiet voices and if not, how can we get better at it.
Within each team, there is invariably members whose voice we rarely hear in a public forum. I often wonder if we dismiss them and their ideas without ensuring that we are providing various platforms for them to feel secure enough to share. This year in our work, we included back channeling opportunities for participants to use to share their insights, thoughts and ideas. To be honest, we did not receive significant input. So, it’s back to the drawing board to explore other platforms.
As I reflect on other teams that I have had the pleasure of working with, I have learned how important it is to respect those members who may not initially share and who need wait time. Once that structure is build it to dialogues and discussions, the end result is always much richer.
When we explore our school communities, what strategies do we have in place for our “quiet” students, staff and parents? As a school principal, one of the ways that we used to gather input from our broader community, was to hold a Community Forum. Our invited guests were treated to a meal, some highlights about the school and then we put them to work and asked them a variety of questions. In hindsight, I’m wondering how that opportunity could have been extended to community members who would have been reluctant to share in such a setting.
What supports do we have in place for staff members who may be reluctant to share at staff meetings or at network meetings?
And most importantly, how do we support our “quiet” students?
Come write with me….
I picked up quiet two summers ago. I was that quiet student. My job has put me in a position to be more extroverted even though it’s not my natural comfort zone.
At our school, we are thankful to have the library available to students during first break daily. We recognize that for some students, recess is not a place to recharge. It often makes them anxious or uncomfortable. Having an alternative has allowed them a quiet space to recharge for the next part of their day. We are able to connect with students who are often the quiet ones and we have a better understanding of their needs. It is something that is valued by staff and students and we hope to continue next year.
I would like to add some more questions:
How do we support our quiet teachers?
How do hiring practices support the hiring of quiet teachers/staff?
I think about this because my husband is a quiet kind of guy. However, he thinks deeply and when he does speak his words are powerful and impactful. He does not do well in new situations or crowds and yet given time, his words have influence. Since learning that valuable lesson from him, I look at quiet people and quiet students differently, wondering what exactly is on their mind. What powerful words are they holding onto inside waiting for the right moment, for the right audience? How can I support the quiet student to meet their full potential?