We recently had a community circle with my students. Reports just went home and my principal commented on how much my students have grown up. I too have notice this difference from last year to this year so I decided to ask them, what has been the difference that has made the difference.
At first they gave some stock answers:
1) we grew up
2) we knew you had high standards. I laugh at this one but it is true.
But then one of the students said it was the community circles. I prompted further and asked, ” but didn’t you have them last year?”
They affirmed my thoughts and said yes but this year you listen.
Listen? I asked. Yes you let us talk and then let us say how we should solve the problem. You let us share and you just sit there and listen.
It’s struck me for a couple of reasons. The first is I often feel I talk too much but also was that really it? Was this really the difference?
I know we all listen to our students but how often do we really listen?
Let me try it a different way. As many of you know I write about my daughter a lot. She has made me a better person and a teacher because of the struggles that she goes through. I have been reading a lot about parenting and about self regulation. The number one thing that I hear is, all kids just want to be understood and listened too. In fact, I think that most people want that. However, that is not a easy feat. Many of times the battles that I do have with my daughter is because I don’t listen and I jump right to my opinion or my interpretation of what I think happened.
Students are no different. They want to be listened too but how often do we fake listen.
Please don’t get me wrong. I think as teachers we all do an amazing job and are stetched so thin but I am writing this more as a reminder to myself to take time to listen. Students say the most wonderful things and when they know you care about them, they care about you.