In college, I took a once a week evening class called Investigative Journalism. Looking forward to forensics and intense interviews, it really ended up us watching The Insider and All the President’s Men while my professor napped in the back.
We did however have a giant semester project where we had to discover some problem and solve it. One of the requirements was to have a phone conversation with 10 experts (as well as 10 live interviews and 10 emails).
This is my worst nightmare.
I don’t know why I hated talking on the phone so much (yes that is in the past tense!) I thought about it a lot that semester and decided that it was because I couldn’t see their body language. They could be loading a gun or surfing the web or working out. If they are sitting there you can see if their legs are bouncing or rolling their eyes or biting their lips and these things are so important. I just feel uncomfortable if I can’t see them.
Also, people act differently on the phone. I definitely have a “phone voice” that I adapt when talking to someone else. It’s a kind of “I’m trying to be clear and cheery even if I hate my life” It’s something I’ve tried to stop but I forget until midway and then it’s too late because you can’t just change in the middle.
Anyway. I did end up getting over my phone speaking phobia, or “telephobia” Which is good because for some reason my campus requires to call every single student over the course of an intense three week period which happens to be now.
We have to ask them specific questions according to their level, as well as try to make normal conversation. Technically they were given the answers and are supposed to have their sheet right in front of them. But of course, most of them don’t. And you hear them nervously flipping through their textbook and their mom mumbling in the back and you try to keep the conversation but they are busy so you’re just sitting there.
Granted talking to children I deal with every day is very different than talking to “experts”.
But still–I was a little nervous about it. And they were too. Little Rosa, one of my ladies, was giggling on the phone and even said “teacher I’m nervous” and it’s okay I understood. I told her that it was just like class and that it was going to be fun and that tomorrow is hump day and she did well.
Most of my students did well actually. Except for Simon who straight up said “I don’t have the answers” or the five kids who ignored the phone and now we have to reschedule.
In case you’re wondering, I did my project on flood plains in Utah. I happened to be taking “Natural Hazards” at the same time and my professor was very concerned about said floods. So I interviewed him. And some other experts on apocalyptic rain. I don’t think they get interviewed very much because they were very excited to talk about how basically every house in Utah is going to be swept away in the near future. One of them even offered to email my professor if I didn’t get an A.
It was such a funny topic that I lost my fear of phone speaking. Okay death isn’t a fun topic, but anyone with passion about anything makes me happy–so I am no longer scared.
Which is good because I have a 74 kids to talk to.