Listening is not just etiquette; it’s a way of loving, honoring and repecting.  It’s a way of sharing ourselves and our humanity.

Ways to listen with compassion, understanding and intention:

Be present and give the speaker your full attention.

Show interest, be generous, encourage the speaker.

Listen with your heart as well as your ears.

Make it safe for the speaker to share his or her thoughts and feelings.

Listen to every word without interrupting or wishing to speak yourself.

When the speaker has finished, acknowledge what you heard without judging or correcting.

( From “How Many People Does It Take To Make A Difference?)

“I felt it shelter to speak to you.”  Emily Dickinson


“If we know how to listen to children, children can give back to us the pleasure of amazement, marvel, doubt…the ability to look at life as a process of searching for meaning.”

                                                        ~Carla Rinaldi
This implies that the teacher would be quiet at times to be able to listen to children.  What strategies could you employ to find out “Whose voice you hear” in the classroom? Have you ever asked the children, ” In the classroom, who talks more- the teacher or the children?”  It would be an interesting conversation!

“One of the essential attributes of a good teacher — from preschool through graduate school — is the disposition to respect learners,” observes Lilian Katz in her book, Intellectual Emergencies: Some Reflections on Mothering and Teaching.  She explains…

“I suggest that to respect the learner means, among other things, attributing to the learner positive qualities, intentions, and expectations, even when the available evidence may cast doubts on the learner’s possession of these attributes.  A respectful relationship between the teacher and the learner is marked also by treating learners with dignity, listening closely and attentively to what the learners say, as well as looking for what they seem reluctant to say.  Respect also includes treating the learners as sensible persons, even though that assumption sometimes requires a stretch of the teacher’s imagination.  When it comes to young children this element of respect implies that we should resist the temptation to talk to young children in silly sweet voices, heaping empty praise on them, and giving them certificates indicating that smiling bear believes they are special.  This disrespectful strategy makes a mockery of teaching.  After all, teaching is about helping learners to make better, deeper, and fuller sense of their experience and to derive deep satisfaction from the processes of doing so.  Education, after all, is not about amusement, excitement, or entertainment.”

A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw the less he spoke:

The less he spoke, the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”

What can you learn about young children by listening?


In her book, Use Your Words:  How Teacher Talk Affects Children’s Learning, Carol Garhart Mooney asks:  Can you think of a time when a child was trying to tell you something important but you missed it because you focused on the wrong thing?  What clues did the child give you that might have helped?  What questions might you have asked to get at the child’s concerns?