I Spoke. I Listened. I Heard. And Now, I’m Wondering.

Last week, I decided on my one word goal for this year. I want to focus on hearing. With it being the first day back after the holidays, I decided to spend some time really listening to the students in the classroom, but also, really listening to — and hearing — myself.

During our transitional time this morning — from Free Exploration to Recess Time — we gathered on the carpet and sang, Down By The BayWe’re working on rhyming (phonemic awareness skills), and students are starting to create their own rhyming verses.

I initially noticed that some students were singing more than others, so I thought that I would encourage more singing by using a technique that I’ve used before: “I really like the way that _________ is singing along.” Usually then, others start to chime in more so that I’ll call their name. Something interesting happened today though …

After I made a couple of comments about how students were singing, one child that was sitting down next to me said, “Miss Dunsiger, Miss Dunsiger, don’t you like how I’m singing?” At the time, I thought, “Well she isn’t singing right now. She’s talking to me. That’s why I didn’t call her name.” But then I started to look around and I realized how many other students were singing nicely, and how many students I missed. I quickly started to call out more names, and I may have even made a general comment about the singing, but I know that I missed many names.

Hearing what this one child had to say has me thinking more tonight. For years, I’ve encouraged students with the use of a similar technique to the one that I used this morning. I never thought twice about it. Now though, I wonder about the students that I miss. I wonder what students are thinking when their names are not called.

  • Do they start to give up?
  • Maybe they struggle with this kind of activity. What if they question their ability to succeed?
  • In my attempt to encourage, am I really discouraging some?

Aligning with my one word goal from last year, I’m learning that sometimes it can be very uncomfortable when we take the time to really “hear” ourselves and others. Maybe it’s time for me to reconsider the approach that I used today. What do you think?


10 thoughts on “I Spoke. I Listened. I Heard. And Now, I’m Wondering.

    • Thanks for the comment, Debbie! Blogging really helps me think out loud and make sense of my thoughts. The feedback I receive, helps me too. I’m still wondering about the complimenting approach, and curious to hear what others think.


  1. I had done a few “I like how …” At the beginning of this year as my 1st time doing kindergarten planning time & thought about how I must be missing a lot of students. I changed to singsong ‘thank you to everyone who is …..” while smiling & “sweeping’ the room trying to making eye contact & maybe doing a thumbs up or applause .I might still miss a few but it feels a little better to me.

    • Oh, I really like that idea, Debbie! It’s a little more general, but seems to get to more people. The tone might also communicate how much you value what these students are doing. Thanks for the idea!


  2. One of my very wise colleagues and I discussed this very topic. She suggested taking a Reading Recovery-style approach, which often uses “Look at how you ___,” or perhaps in your circumstance, “Listen how we sound when we sing together.” I’ve been making a conscious effort too to monitor my “I like how ___.” It’s a tricky shift. As always, love reading your posts and reflections.

    • Thanks Lorraine! I really appreciate that. I’ve been trying the suggestions that Jon and Debbie left on the post, and I like the sounds of them better. My comment about how we sound when we all sing together is actually helping with better singing — and everybody feels like he/she plays a role in this. Yay!!


  3. Jon’s suggestions for wording hit the mark for me. They help us to get away from children doing things to please the teacher and move towards noticing and reflecting for themselves. I’ve noticed that librarians at storytime often resort to this same adult-pleasing wording when trying to encourage participation. Thanks for helping me to pause and notice how I speak to children.

    • Thanks Robin! I really liked Jon’s wording too. I agree: this helps with self-reflection, and helps students understand why this matters (and not just because it would make us (the teachers) happy).


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