Be a Listening Teacher
It is only natural to expect students to listen (pay attention) to their teachers, but what about vice-versa? Do teachers’ pay attention to their students?
Reflect on your listening skills and answer the following questions:
- Do you constantly interrupt students when they talk?
- Do you try to hasten conversations with students using nonverbal cues such as facial expressions or gestures?
- Do you multi-task (ex. grade papers) while conversing with students?
- Do you wait to hear an entire question or answer given by a student in class?
- Do your thoughts wander when engaged in conversations with students?
If you answered “Yes,” to two or more of these questions, than maybe you should consider improving your listening skills.
Listening is a two way process, both the teacher and student are expected to pay attention to what is being conveyed. Only then does effective communication take place. If there is effective communication in the classroom, than there is effective learning in the classroom. Teachers need to be effective listeners for the following reasons:
1. To connect with students:
For a teacher to build a good rapport and trust with students, students must feel listened to. This affirmation helps students overcome inhibitions when approaching teachers and aids in the creating a safe environment, encouraging them to confide and share their problems and needs with their teachers.
2. To understand students:
Being good listeners enables teachers to understand their students better. Effective conversations with students can help identify strengths and interests of students and can be utilized to structure lessons to motivate, inspire and challenge them to do better.
3. To give students a voice:
Students need to know that they have a voice. This encourages them to be active participants in the learning process. Feedback from students helps teachers to improve their teaching methodologies and improve the teaching-learning process in the classroom.
Be a teacher that listens.
Tips to becoming a better listening teacher:
- Have an open mind while conversing with students. Try to focus only on the student and not on any extraneous stimuli or tasks.
- Take time for conversations. If time is limited, conclude the conversation on a positive note, reschedule and follow up with the student.
- Ensure that your nonverbal cues (body language, eye contact and even gestures) demonstrate that you are interested in the conversation.
- Paraphrase and summarize the student’s dialogues, indicating that you were paying attention to the student.
- Use open-ended questions to gain clarity on the student’s thoughts and feelings. This gives them an opportunity to elaborate on the topic.
- Engage in informal discussions with students to understand them better. These talks can help build a rapport and establish trust.
- Give empathetic responses, this will help students understand that you value them and their feelings.
Being a good listening teacher helps to improve teacher-student relationships; contributes to a safe and positive classroom environment; and improves the process of teaching and learning in the classroom.