Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Are you Listening?"

Thanks to my colleague Tara Fagan, I have discovered this book written by Lisa Burman.

It has really made me stop and reflect on my practice as a teacher, a person and a mother! Am I truly listening when children talk to me? Sadly, the more I read the more I realise I need to really work on my listening skills! Isn't it funny that as a teacher we are often focusing on developing listening skills in children and I wonder if we are role modeling good listening skills ourselves. How many times when children are trying to engage us in conversations are we actually doing other things, thinking about other things or saying "hang on a minute..." In my role as an Early Years Facilitator for Core Education I have had the opportunity to delve deeper into this question with many teaching teams. As incredibly reflective practitioners we have all walked away with new ideas and strategies for truly listening to children.

When children are telling us their stories it is giving us an amazing opportunity to learn about their interests. It is also giving us an insight into the knowledge and experiences they have. By gaining this knowledge we are able to offer experiences to further inspire, motivate and challenge their thinking and learning. I have found these 5 tips (from Lisa Burman's book) to be very useful for teachers to reflect on their practice.

  • Pause and reflect on the ways you listen closely to children.
  • Pause and become more conscious of the questions you ask.
  • Pause and become aware of the time you give children to think before you continue the conversation.
  • Pause and become aware of how you might unintentionally lead children to your ideas instead of exploring their own schema.
  • Pause and become a more skilled teacher by reflecting on your role as a listener to young learners.

In my daily work with children and teachers (including my own children!) I will be focusing on truly listening and sharing the ideas and strategies that Lisa Burman gives us for fostering conversations that help young children learn.

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