How many times have you walked into a crowded restaurant only to hear one loud, booming voice hanging above the rest? Or perhaps you’re in a staff lounge and can hear the conversation coming through the walls of the next room because the person talking is doing so at a decibel slightly above annoying. Yeah – me too.

But usually my voice is the one that carries.

We all have this issue at times. We say things and people overhear them and (occasionally) misinterpret them because we are louder than we think. I sometimes have to poke my husband or hiss at my dad to lower their voice because in my embarrassment I think they might be obnoxious. Only to realize in the end that my embarrassment should have been coming from my own loud comments at an inopportune time.

When a voice carries, it does so with all the implications of our personalities, fears and knowledge. Voices can carry hate, sarcasm, naivety, ignorance, anger or anxiety. Voices can also carry wisdom, ideas, joy, laughter, encouragement, beauty, thoughtfulness and caring. Which voice do you want to ring louder?

In a classroom, give your students their own voice.  Allow them to choose the voice that they bring to the table and to hear the voices that carry them beyond literal meaning.  And when working within a student-centered learning environment, speak with a voice that is measured and careful in its decibel and its intent.

If you are a leader, your voice carries far beyond where you may intend it to go. If you are a follower, you may internalize more voices than you are aware. Together, as universal learners, it is our duty to choose the voices that resonate deeply into the caverns of ourselves so that we can let them ring out into the vastness of the world around us.

Which voice do you want to carry with you today?