What I needed as a child in school was a teacher who wanted to hear my voice, my ideas, the words that were always present but never spoken; a teacher who would have given me the support and safety and a space in which to project my voice... Karen Gallas
After reading Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn: Building Essential Skills in Young Children by Mary Renck Jalongo, I became aware of the type of listener I am not only as an educator but also as mom, wife, coworker, and friend. Jalongo says an attribute that people gravitate toward in others is those who listen. People who take the time and trouble to listen with their ears, minds, and heart are a rarity and considered a treasure. When working with children, we need to be their treasure so that they know that their voice matters.
Listening can be difficult to define because it can have various meanings. In Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn: Building Essential Skills in Young Children, listening is defined as the process of taking in information through the sense of hearing and making meaning from what was heard. When working with young children, the kind of listening that teachers most need in order to help children learn is effective listening. We are able to effectively listen when we do these 3 things:
Receive the verbal and nonverbal message
Attend to by our engaging effort and desire to keep our attention focused completely on the message
Assign meaning by interpreting or understanding the message through cultural contexts and personal intellectual and emotional processes (Wolvin & Coakley 1996)
So now that listening has been defined and we see what effective listening looks like, try these steps to active listening. These steps are meant to help you reflect upon and evaluate your listening.
Try the LADDERS to Active Listening.
L – Look at the person you are talking to
A – Ask pertinent questions and make relevant comments after the speaker has finished
D – Don’t interrupt or allow yourself to be distracted
D – Don’t change the subject
E – Emotions are kept under control
R – Respond appropriately to their words
S – Slow down your internal thoughts and concentrate on speaker
Once you’ve tried these, you can evaluate yourself and practice what may need improvement.
Please remember that our children deserve their treasure, which is YOU!
Jalongo, M.R. (2008). Learning to listen, Listening to learn: Building Essential Skills in Young Children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Young Children.
Wolvin, A.D., & C.G. Coakley. (1996). Listening. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.