I’ve heard these words many times before, and for that matter, I’ve also said them (in some form) many times: “_______ is a bad listener. He/she doesn’t pay attention. He/she can’t focus. If your child wants to improve, he/she needs to listen more.” As I continue to read Stuart Shanker‘s Calm, Alert, and Learning, I’m starting to see “listening” in a different way. Listening and self-regulation definitely coincide. As I sit back and reflect tonight, I can’t help but think of these questions and my answers to them.
- How have we helped minimize visual distractions in the room?
- How much time are we talking to students?
- How can we use “sensory stimulation” to help some students that need it, pay attention more?
- How are we using visuals during our lessons?
- How are we minimizing additional noise?
You see, today I spoke to my students about Friday’s Celebration of Learning. I mentioned the idea that I blogged about last night, and students seemed eager to give it a try. In the middle of discussing possible sharing options, one child raised her hand and said, “But nobody’s going to listen during our talking time.” I asked her why she said this, and she mentioned that this was the case during our last Celebration of Learning. I then said that our format this time would be different. Her thought was that this wouldn’t matter.
That’s when I asked, “What can we do to help the visiting students pay attention?” My students mentioned ideas such as,
- less talk time.
- more exploring (in teacher speak, “hands-on learning”).
- good pictures and charts (a.k.a. visuals). Give them things to look at that will help them learn.
- quiet voices. This is hard as there will be many students in one class, but we can at least try to spread out the displays and keep our talking voices low.
If we want students to be successful listeners, we need to create an environment in which this can happen. My Grade 5 students realized this today, and they’re eager to put their ideas into place for Friday. As I think more about this listening topic, I can’t help but wonder if “bad listening” is more the fault of the environment than the skills of the child. What do you think? How do you help all children achieve success as “good listeners?” I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!