Listening vs. Reacting

This is much easier said than done. It applies not only to your students, but to yourself.

 

Listening To Yourself

You can’t teach and deny that you are a person with feelings. As an educator we constantly have to deal with negative emotions that we don’t often talk about. Confusion, frustration, failure, anger. We live in a world that undervalues how intense it can be to go through an entire work day and never have a conversation with someone over the age of 18. While the work is incredibly rewarding, there are toils.

 

Now I’m not trying to dwell in the negatives, but energy cannot be created or destroyed- just transferred. If you aren’t acknowledging those negative aspects they are seeping through into your life- and probable into your teaching.

 

So what to do? Take time in your day to say aloud or write the difficult things that have happened. I use my car ride home. Taking the time to just give notice to those annoyances means you aren’t holding onto them. WATCH OUT FOR CYCLING. Not the bikes. Sometimes we can’t solve a problem- such is life- so make sure that you acknowledging and releasing frustrations, not adding fuel to the fire.

 

Listening To Your Students

Just as life is happening constantly for you, it is also happening for your students. While they are dealing with problems large and small-- there will be times that a student cannot focus their attention in the room. It’s easy to take this personally, you’ve prepared a lesson, you’re doing your best, you are probably performing an incredible feat- and someone in the room is spacing out, talking, or trying to throw a wrench into your plan.

Our gut response is to shut it down. Shut down the conversation, reroute the attention, pull every single person’s focus to you. If they should dare tell us they don’t get it or don’t like what we are doing? WATCH OUT!

As in all things you have to balance.

Balance may mean re-routing your plan. Find as many ways to explain the same thing as you can! You never know which one of those explanations is going to land the right way.

Balance might mean giving everyone 3 minutes to discuss what you just learned with their table or a partner. Sometimes learning from a peer is less intimidating.

Balance might mean asking someone to leave the room. Or allowing a student to space out.

Sometimes a student won’t be able to be in the room. Don’t lose the rest of the class to focus in on one person.

 

What's Reacting?

You react when you speak out of anger. When you scold a kid for not understanding a simple concept, or asking a silly question. When you allow the negatives you are feeling or even the negatives they are feeling to influence how you teach.

Don't take it personallyYou will not reach every student with one lesson. That’s like getting a Grand Slam every hit. Just because someone didn’t get it- doesn’t mean you failed. Just take another swing.