Learning to Listen: days two & three

Yesterday & Today’s theme: Listening

I’ve written a lot about talking. Sometimes I think in the midst of all the talking we forget to listen. So I wanted to take a few days to really listen.

There are several ways to listen. You can listen with your ears (most obvious) but you can also listen with your eyes and with the way things feel, too.

I know when I’m teaching I get caught up in the talking. Talking about what I want my kids to learn. Talking about how I want them to behave. Talking to my colleagues about what I want changed, how I think education should look.

I gave myself a challenge. I was going to do very little talking and a whole lot of listening for two days. The reason I gave myself two days was because I needed the first day as an adjustment period.

I don’t think you understand how difficult it is to limit your talking and really listen. Not only does that little voice in your head keep screaming at you “…but I think…!” You also have to admit that you may not always know whats best. Sometimes somebody else has a better idea. And that’s okay!

I don’t know if you know this but humans instinctually seek out knowledge. It is a mechanism for survival. So every child will tell you what they need. You just have to be ready to listen with more then just your ears.

I’ll give you perfect example of a situation I experienced just this morning. I see a third grade student, who we will call Sid, first thing in the morning. I walk into his classroom to find him clenching his jaw, running his fingers through his hair and mumbling under his breathe.

I sit next him, calmly. Wait…Sid continues to grumble and run his fingers through his hair.

Me: Rough morning?
Sid: she treats us like we’re five…grrrrrr…umph!
Me: I understand.
Sid: grrr…umph!

All the while, he works to complete his math meeting sheet and daily oral language. When he hesitates on daily oral language I gently say synonyms are words that mean the same and antonyms are opposites. He completed the problem on his own.

He hesitates a second time and I restate the directions and read the words. Sid is an undiagnosed dyslexic. (You know what I’m talking about. Those kids that don’t formally receive a diagnosis but you know have a visual processing issue)

In fifteen minutes he completed; math meeting, daily oral language, a vocabulary sheet and math facts. All I had to do was listen. I heard his complaints. I saw his frustration. And I felt his anxiety caused from the unknown. I responded and in return he was able to be successful.

Have you had similar situations? Have you experienced listening actively in a work situation or even just in life? I challenge you to try for 1-2 days to do as little talking as you can and listen actively. Write down what you learned from you experience. It may really surprise you. Happy listening!


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I've been teaching Title I Reading in a rural Missouri school for the past 8 years. I'm looking to find other teachers with a passion for literacy. I want to share thoughts, ideas, and current research on literacy trends and issues. I look forward to learning with/from you all!!!

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