Today we were shushed. It happened in the hallway while I was walking with a group of students from their classrooms to my office. It did not surprise me because it isn’t the first time we’ve been “shushed” in my career, and I highly doubt it will be the last… because, I’m here to tell you, we will not “be quiet” in the hallway. If we’re being honest, this “shushing” made me feel angry, protective, judged, and, most of all, misunderstood. Of course, in the moment, I was “professional” as we moved past and on our way. But it kept re-entering my mind… so here I am, to write it out, in hopes that it will help to spread understanding about my refusal to “be quiet”. Please know that this is not a direct letter to today’s shusher, but rather to the culmination of shushers I have encountered in my career.
Thank you for your concern regarding the volume level of my group today. However, despite your chastisement, we will not “be quiet” in the hallway. I’m sure this is pretty surprising as this seems to be an area of passion for you. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you why my hallway jaunts are less-than-silent in hopes that you come to better understand my role in our school and my resistance to your shushing.
First, let’s discuss my schedule. You see, it’s like an angry tetris game up in there. My schedule contains back-to-back sessions and meetings all day, every day. It took me hours to create this (8th draft) of my schedule to accommodate each grade level’s schedule and all of the minutes and goals of my caseload. So, this means that the moment I pick my students up, their session typically begins. Considering they only see me a few times per week to increase their communication skills, those 2-5 minutes of walking are PRICELESS to me.
I should also tell you a little about the students I work with. They have a really hard time communicating. They struggle with answering questions, understanding pragmatics, holding a conversation, understanding vocabulary, saying their sounds correctly, and so much more. My less-than-quiet time while I walk with them is a great opportunity to reinforce these skills. So when you look down your nose at them and tell them to be quiet, you not only belittle them but you also impact their confidence with their communication. Our hallway conversations allow us to put communication in context. They help us to start our session out on a good foot. They ARE communication and they ARE therapy!
Finally, these kids are SO important to me. Their ability to communicate is the ENTIRE reason that I work at our school. As much as you care about your subject area, I care about mine. Because I respect our relationship, I can assure you that my students will only speak at a conversational level while walking in the hallway… there are no hooligans in speech. I can also assure you that next time we are shushed, I will stand up for them and their need to practice their communication skills during our walks to and from speech.
Your School’s Communication Expert