By Samantha Dwyer
To explore the act of listening, teacher candidates in Dr. Dawn Woods’ Winter 2021 sections of Teaching Mathematics at the Elementary and Middle Level were asked to “Listen for the Gold” based on a reading from the book Listen Like a Storyteller: A Guidebook on Attention and Finding the Truth in the Narrative Age (McCann, 2019). Teacher candidates found a few moments when working with their students to close their eyes to focus on hearing, enjoying, and to listen for the gold. Here is one of the narratives about what they heard as they listened and how it connected to their work as teachers.
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I hear my mentor teaching greeting the students this morning via virtual class, “Good morning!” As the students join class, I hear each welcome from my mentor teacher. While there is no talking, I hear the sound of the heater traveling throughout the room. I then hear a cabinet open, where my mentor teacher grabs a granola bar, then the cabinet shuts. I hear the wrapper of the granola bar. I hear my mentor teacher ask individual students to share their “high/low” from the day/weekend/etc. I then hear each student’s response. After class is finished, I hear my mentor teacher speaking to me, I hear her typing, and I hear her computer mouse clicking. As she leaves the room, I hear the door open and shut. Now I am left with the sound of me typing this discussion post, and the sound of the heater traveling around me.
I stop to find the softest thing I can see. The first thing that my eyes go to is the stool directly in front of me. It has a soft looking cushion on top of it. I look at it and study the rippled texture of it for fifteen seconds. Of all the sounds in my bucket, the one that stands out to me the most is hearing one specific student’s high/low. She mentioned that her high was that she got to go to her cottage, and that her low was she fell through the ice of her pond. I listened to her tell the story of how she fell through the ice, the water went over her head, but that she was OK. The specific sound that came to me was her assuring us that she was OK. I will name this sound “safe”. Hearing that this student was OK after falling through ice was the gold.