The power of listening 

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 noticed 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 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 an 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 stretched 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.

The purpose of teaching is….

Go! Fill in the blank: The purpose of teaching is _______________.

I know we all have our own opinions about what education is, in fact I hope to see some of your thoughts in the comment section. For me teaching is meeting each and everyone where they are at that present moment in time. It is about modelling and growing a future generation to care, love and be creative.  That being said I often question what teaching is because I wonder if everyone thinks the way I do (which by the way I know they do not and that is a good thing) So I ask you, my readers, What is the point of teaching? What is its purpose? How do we know we are meeting that purpose?

I may have blogged about this before but recent presentations have made me think about these questions.

In past research I came across this statement:

The purpose of teaching is to help students learn…~Cathy Fosnot

Now I think we would all agree with this statement. In fact, I would hope that no teacher would disagree. However, this was not what got me thinking. It was the last part of the sentence that really made me ponder.

..however, without learning there is no teaching. ~Cathy Fosnot

When I first read this statement I said to myself is she implying that if my students do not learn then I am not teaching? And to be honest, yes she was. I have always said teaching is an art form. I know that everyone thinks that they can teach but good teachers know how to make people learn. It is the learning that makes teaching rich and important and not everyone does this.


So let me turn this over to you, what do you think teaching is? How do you know you are doing it?