Silences in Teaching

Les voix du silence dans l’académie

Rebecca Nowacek

My first semester as an assistant professor. The third week of class. Tuesday, September 11th. I have just watched the first tower fall. Amidst general alarm I fear that I have watched my friend Alyssa die. I shuffle to my classroom. Take a seat and sit silently with my students. I don’t know what to say. They are all there, looking to me. I talk for a little while. Words that I won’t remember tumble out of my mouth. A few students respond. Then one takes a deep breath and disagrees with me. I realize that she is right and tell her so. She nods her head. We fall back into silence. No one seems to want to leave. Then we begin to write. All I can hear is the scratching of pens on paper and the occasional sniffle. We sit together. And write.