Welcome 2015: My One Little Word

A new year, a new one little word.

My 2015 OLW has been with me for a while. It’s been lurking, hanging out with wonder, my 2014 OLW. Waiting in the wings. Helping out when needed. Saying here I am,  psst over here. I’m here.

I worried that this word was too direct. Too single minded. Too pushy. So I tried on a few others. Some words were beautiful and might fit someday, but not right now. Some words were tempting. They looked magical.

But this word kept whispering in my ear. Driving, I’d hear it on a podcast; browsing through a magazine at the grocery store, there it was again. It could have been the Honda Accord phenomenon. You know, the thing that happens when you buy a Honda Accord and then you see that car everywhere. You’re sensitized to something, so you see what was there all along. Which brings me right back to my one little word’s promise. The promise to see what I’ve been missing, what was there already. And it has nothing to do with the visual.

You see, I’m not taking it all in. My thoughts and words are strong and often overpower other words. I’m not really listening.

I thought I was listening in my classroom. I quieted my voice, and made a space for student voices. I recorded their thoughts in my notebook. I started to capture their words with my phone.  I continued to jot and ask follow up questions in response to or to solicit more.  Later, I’d review their thoughts, play the recordings to flesh out my notes. I was stunned: there was so much I did not process initially.

What was said was filtered, perhaps hidden, by my thoughts. I had tried to create questions that were open ended that showed no prompting or bias, but my understanding was skewed. Sitting at my dining room table, reviewing student’s voices I had recorded, LISTEN stood up and said pay attention.

I am not taking it all in. I ‘m hearing what I am listening for, or as Gordon Hempton, an audio ecologist, calls listening “for something in particular.” I had no idea.

I thought I was listening to my daughter. She’d say you never listen to me. I thought that was just the typical teenage cry. Now I wonder.

I wonder, what else am I not listening to?

Here’s to this year’s OLW.recite-14h15lu