Johnston writes about the power of listening. In chapter 8 of Opening Minds he describes a situation in a classroom where the teacher asks students to share with the class what their partners said during a think/pair/share type activity. Some students could restate accurately what their partners said and others couldn’t. The teacher asked them to share what their partner said to bring awareness to their listening abilities.
This was powerful to me because I have conducted these types of activities several hundred times. I do them daily at least once. Our class is a very collaborative class, but I had to stop and ask myself if we are a listening class. I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I do know though, that I could be a little better at listening to what all my students have to say.
We all do it. We ask a question and then a student begins to answer it and the answer has an explanation that may or may not make sense, but it’s long… very long. I’ve been know to ask the student to wrap it up, to focus their answer, I’ve even drowned them out and did the automatic head nod accompanied by the “uh huh, hmm”s. This doesn’t make me a bad teacher. It makes me human.
I am very thankful for that example in chapter 8 because it has encouraged me to not only try an activity like that to build better listening skills with my kiddos, but to also be a better listener myself.
After reading I was left feeling excited to go to work tomorrow. That’s always a good feeling!
Suggestions For Group Thinking (Ch. 8)
Listen, and respect each other’s ideas.
Everyone gets to be heard.
We give reasons when we agree or disagree,
and we ask for reasons when people forget to give them.
Everyone is responsible for group decisions, so we try to agree.