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.