"I don't think I'm explaining my expectations well, so let me clarify. I want for you to respond to an essential question about our upcoming unit in writing. If you are talking, you are not in your own head. If you are talking, others around you are unable to be in their own brains. The ideas you're being asked to share are your own. So you need to be able to hear your ideas form and that's going to require quiet. Lord knows we have tons of collaborative work in this classroom, so I have no guilt about asking you to create a quiet work space. None. If you have a question, ask me, I won't be upset, but please do not disrupt each other's thinking."
For the next 53 minutes it was almost completely silent and my students wrote and wrote and wrote and it was good. So good. It was today's extraordinary moment that I would have missed if not for students who truly heard me.