As a teacher, I spend a lot of time talking. Especially at the beginning of the year, setting up a class takes a lot of instructing of students. This year was my first set up of a classroom and I ended up having to use throat lozenges due to an overused voice. I just finished my undergrad earlier this year and I loved learning (I think it helps if you are to be a teacher). What I love the most is an academic discussion. I love to study, read about a topic and then discuss the ideas with peers. That is how I envision my classroom. I don’t want to do all of the talking. If I am talking, I cannot hear my students.
I want to take a minute to define hearing and listening, because they are two distinctly two different actions. Listening is what we all do. I listen to music, I listen to my husband tell me about what is happening at his work, I listen to the news, I listen to my friends, I listen to my sisters, and the list goes on. When we listen, we process on a superficial level and we are generally thinking about what we are going to answer back to the person we are listening to. I can tell when a student is only listening; they put their hand up while I am talking and the try to talk when I am talking.
However “hearing” what is being said is entirely different. Hearing means we actually care about what the person is saying with their voice. We take into account their body language and demeanor. Hearing what a student says to me is my job. Students are not the only people that I interact with, I need to hear parents, other teachers, my own children and husband. I need to hear what they are saying and maybe more importantly, what they are not saying. An important step in hearing is not talking. This seems to go against what you picture when you think of a traditional teacher. I don’t want to be traditional.
This week I sat in a meeting where a lot of talking, some listening and very little hearing took place. While I can’t change others, I am accountable for my own actions. I will work very hard on hearing when concerns are presented to me. I will not add my own thoughts or stories to the conversation. I will not be thinking about what I am going to say next. I will hear what is being presented to me. I am a work in progress; I know I won’t hear every time someone is speaking to me. I tend to be passionate about certain topics and those topics will be my biggest challenge, to hear what is being shared and not to offer my opinion. If I don’t hear what is being said to me my students will stop talking and that would be a crime. I know that even though most of my students have not reached double digits in age yet, if I don’t hear what they are saying they will not want to talk to me and they will think that their thoughts and feeling are not being validated – I must validate their feelings.
It is my goal this year and for the rest of my career and life to hear what is being said to me. By hearing what is being told to me I will be a better friend, colleague, teacher, mother and wife.
That's my view, from the 86th pew, Michelle