April 2019 Blog

April 2019

The Gift of Listening:
Integrating Active Listening into Daily Life and School Culture

What does bad listening look like?  Students have a great time acting out bad listening as part of Lesson 1.11.  They check their cell phones, look away while “pretending to listen,” interrupt or talk over. They can all laugh about it in reflection, but when you ask, “what does bad listening feellike?” – they take on a more serious tone. They can all relate to the disappointment and frustration of not feeling heard. If it’s from friends or teachers or parents, poor listening hurts and good listening matters.


So what does good listening look like? Good listening is proactive, not passive. In School-Connect we call this “EARS Active Listening” with an acronym for each component. → 

With eye contact, engagement, reflection techniques, and relevant open-ended questions, a good listener joins the speaker in his/her emotional state and perspective.

As Dr. Stephen Covey coined, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In a genuine effort to understand without judgment, the listener is showing respect, building empathy, and helping the speaker to think through his/her emotions and experiences.

As with any new skill, students may feel uncomfortable when first trying active listening. The process may feel contrived, but, with practice, students should be able to naturally integrate the methods into their conversational style. Over time, experiencing the natural benefits of active listening will reinforce students’ use of the techniques. Teachers can aid the process by regularly modeling the skill inside and outside of class, and cueing students when to use the skill, e.g., in group activities and think-pair-shares.

Being deliberate in making meaningful connections is especially important in a generation of “digital zombies” where youth (and adults) are often more attentive to their phones than people. Listening matters in relationships, learning, and ultimately the workforce. If a friend needs consoling or a student needs clarification, or a customer needs help, active listening skills are essential.

CLICK to access the full SEL Integration Guide online with active listening strategies specifically for:

· Administrators

· English LA Teachers

· Parents

· Staff Meetings

· Coaches

· Foreign Lang. Teachers

· Science Teachers

· Support Staff

· Community Partners

· Health Teachers

· Service Projects

· Theatre/Music

· Counselors

· Math Teachers

· Social Studies

· Visual Arts

 Recommended Reading:  How to Talk So Your Teens Will Listen and Listen So Your Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book can be a game-changer for parents and teachers of teens. It is a quick, easy read that can have lasting effects on the way you interact with, discipline, and inspire teens. Great for reading on your own and/or with a parent/teacher book club.

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