I’ve contracted a SEVERE throat infection. I cannot speak at all.


I recently wore this sign on my neck during class. I placed it around my neck and went about the business of being the teacher in the classroom.

At first there was high levels of concern. There were comments like “Are you ok?” or  “Stay away from me, I don’t want it.”

And then one student remembered to having seen my speaking just fine earlier in the day. There were snickers, laughs, and smiles all around. They were picking up what I was putting down.

I silently gestured them through a slide that explained that although I couldn’t verbally communicate, this didn’t mean that they couldn’t learn. There was a handout. They have brains. They had each other. No excuses. The focus was recursive sequences.

I don’t think this idea would work well with any class, but it was an awesome experience with those I tried it with.

There were natural leaders who volunteered to demo examples on the board for the class. Some kickstarted conversations about what they noticed and wondered. There were others who made their way across the room to seek help or give it to other groups. And yet others did their thing on their own or with a partner.

Throughout all of this, I said nothing and did very little. For the entire period I peered over shoulders, pointed out (literally) interesting steps in student work, and wrote on the board the time remaining before the exit slip was to be administered. I reminded them (with a slide) that they needed to ensure everyone in the class could be successful on the exit slip, as it was the measure of their success as a team. (They ended up being 90% proficient.)

I closed by reiterating with them the fact they need me far less than they think they do. I’m no gatekeeper of knowledge.