Do we encourage active listening? How do you know when your students are listening to your “words of wisdom?” Noted educator and founder of Success Academy, Eva Moskowitz, stated in a recent Wall Street Journal article that one of the factors to her school’s success is the idea that “distracted, misbehaving children can’t learn.” I am not sure, but this could be an “old school” notion. Yet it is sometimes those “old school notions that are the key to success! To create a climate where active listening occurs, there are just a few conditions that should be met.
- Always remember you are the teacher. Simple, yes, but many in our profession want to be our students’ friend. There is a true difference between friend and teacher, and while you work to build a relationship with your students, it should not be that of a friend (Does your friend circle really include a 16 year-old who values his/her FaceBook status more than the status of family members?).
- When instruction is occurring, students should sit (they have to in church or movies) with their hands clasped (keeps fidgeting in check) and track the speaker. Tracking the speaker includes not only tracking the instructor but also any student who either asks or answers a question. This discourages staring off in space, putting heads down, or playing with objects on their desks.
- Use cold call strategies to check for understanding. And when a student is called on, he/she must repeat the question along with the answer (active listening).
Creating an environment where active listening becomes second nature takes practice. This will probably include the teacher stopping the lesson/discussion to practice these concepts, but the more practice you provide, the more students will understand that the classroom is a learning environment and expectations will always be held high.
Here’s to listening!