“Just Listen”

Part of what I gain from educational blogs is reminders, advice, and ideas from others in this profession.  Those blog posts often ground me in something I know is very important, but have been out of practice or routine when it comes to my practice.  I am hoping this post serves as that type of reminder to my fellow educators.  I usually don’t have to think long when deciding what I might post next, it is normally dropped right into my lap.  This week is no exception.

Listen

LISTEN to students!

No, not the kind of listening that you hope appeases them as you scroll through your emails.

Really LISTEN.

No, not the kind of listening that is done as you check off your list that you had a conversation with that student.

Take the time to focus and LISTEN.

No, not the kind of listening that as soon as they are in front of you, you have already mentally moved onto the next task.

Use those coaching skills…pause, paraphrase, and probe for understanding as you continue to LISTEN.

No, not the kind where you are just waiting for them to take a breath so you can tell them all about your thinking, ideas, and ways to solve the problem.

LISTEN to that child with the intent, focus, and energy that makes them feel like they are the only one in the world that matters.  After all, that is what they deserve.

I have found that the skill of listening is one that greatly impacts the ability of not only educators, but adults in general, to form solid bonds with kids.  It is also a skill that I think most people believe they are really good at, but likely because it’s a skill extremely difficult to self-assess.  Think about the conversations you may have had today with adults and really think back on how many of those you were truly engaged as a listener.  Then, have a similar reflection, except this time with students or kids.  My hunch is that many of us have plenty of growth to do in this area.

Get back into that practice of being a great listener, which can be so challenging in this profession.  I guarantee it will pay off in your relationships with students.  If you fail to truly listen, they will sometimes show you in ways that made you wish you just listened the first time.

All educators will find themselves in a situation during the next 24 hours where a student is going to bring a valid concern to you.  It may have taken all types of courage for that student to share with you and it could truly be groundbreaking in their world.  Find a good location where you can lock in to their words.  Unplug from the rest of the world, even for that brief moment.  Forget about what you have to do next.  And be a great LISTENER.

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