Spring Meeting Day 3 was a day for professional development.
The keynote speaker was Katherine Schultz, author of the book Rethinking Classroom Participation: Listening to Silent Voices. She suggests that teachers take a nuanced view toward classroom silence, understanding its complex functions and regarding it as a form of participation.
I think as teachers of multicultural students, we are aware of the silence of our students not as a sign of ignorance or stupidity, but as a sign of cultural norms. For me, if students are overly vocal or if they have prolonged eye contact with me, it's actually a sign of aggression on their part. I found it helpful to hear someone else talk about a behavior that is normal for us, and she helped teachers to broaden the view of participation in the classroom.
Schultz is the director the Philadelphia Writing Project and is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Check the link below for more information on her and more of her mana'o:
Listening to the Sounds of Silence in the Classroom - National Writing Project