I remember back in the beginning of distance learning, the idea of muting someone felt wrong.
We don’t mute people.
But it had to be done because we couldn’t make sense of who was talking.
We learned how to find space for our voices without raising hands. Tricky with the lag, but students figured it out. They learned to pass the conversation on to someone else without me orchestrating it.
In the virtual space, when we write, read, or think, muting become an expectation.
Students policed each other. “X- you’re un muted” is the phrase used to keep the work space quiet.
And it is deafeningly quiet.
Today, students were taking a mandated math assessment. Occasionally someone would ask a question and then forget to mute.
“Ten times four plus twelve”
“A, you’re unmuted.”
“Ugh, I can’t believe I did…”
“Oh, I get it!”
“H, you’re unmuted.”
“This is easy.”
Each voice would realize or be informed of their unmuted status and mute themselves.
We all process in different ways. Thinking out loud is necessary sometimes.
One of my students has a beautiful voice and she loves to hum as she works. And I’m sure others have their habits. We just don’t them. Yet.
At some time to be determined in April, my school will be going to a hybrid model. The majority of my kiddos elected to stay on line, but for the eight returnees learning how to be with other humans outside their home will be the first order of business. There will be no mute buttons.
How will it feel when they are surrounded by others who have their own, sometimes noisy, ways of sorting through problems?
Now that they have had their own audio space, I wonder if sensitivities will be greater.
When we return, there will be bumps. And muting will not be an option. We don’t mute people.
Perhaps, the experience of being in a space without the intrusion of others will help kiddos see the need for tolerance and self control. It’s a tall order for any one. Learning how to live with others respectfully is one of the most important things to teach and learn. For now, I’m imagining the unmuted bumps.