When I drive to and from work, I regularly listen to podcasts recommended to me by students and colleagues as a way to stay connected. 99% Invisible is one of my current favorites. It’s about design, architecture and the ninety-nine percent unnoticed and invisible activity that affects our daily lives.
Two episodes that really made me think about our students include one about the wonders of the urban wilderness and one about the origin of Taipei’s tallest building. They’re not about education at all, but in each story, I see the individual stories and needs of our students.
Podcast creator Roman Mars said, “I want to be the person who notices things and pays attention and is thoughtful and curious.” He’s onto something. 99% Invisible is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes with 80 million downloads.
That same idea reflects how I feel about our work. I want to pay attention to the successes, challenges and experiences of our students, both small and large. Each episode helps me slow down and practice active listening, something we need to remember to do every now and then.
Those skills are critical in our work with students. When I listen, students always have something to teach me, whether they know it or not. Just like in the stories explored in 99% Invisible, each student is different and extraordinary in their own way.
We are often passionate about our own ideas that we forget to take a step back and really listen to our students’ needs. When we don’t, it’s the reactions of our students that show us where we need to change.
I encourage you to take a break today to learn something new. Find something to help slow you down and keep your ears engaged as we prepare for the new semester with our students.