Active Listening and Initiating Tasks – The Engaged Learner:
If you had been a fly on my classroom wall last week you would have been aware of a meeting that I had with one of my students. “Sherry” a sweet Grade 5 student, experiences tremendous difficulty attending in class (she often seems detached) and initiating tasks. We talked about this and about the impact that this was having on her learning in the classroom. We talked openly and honestly about my classroom expectations, and about her role as a leaner and mine as her teacher. We discussed what she needed to take responsibility for and what I could do to help. Here’s what we came up with:
Attention & Initiation
(A) Teacher Role:
- Prior to any transition or lesson give Sherry a “heads up”. Share privately what’s coming up next.
- Cue Sherry before giving instructions.
- Stand next to Sherry prior to asking questions and giving instructions so that she knows to pay attention.
- Ensure for understanding – e.g. Ask her to paraphrase instructions &/or rephrase concepts.
- Whenever possible ensure that she is actively engaged in the learning process.
- Every once in a while be silly / playful in order to gain her attention.
- Allow for frequent breaks and movement in the classroom when appropriate.
(B) Student Role:
After discussing what “Active Listening” looks like, we decided that in order to listen effectively Sherry must exhibits the following behaviours. Sherry must:
- Sit up straight – Especially as she tends to want to lie on her desk
- (Make) Eye contact – Look at the speaker
- Ask relevant questions – Once the speaker has finished ask relevant questions
- Share – Share any related stories, opinions, etc.
- Positivism – Be positive. Listen with an open mind; be engaged.
In order to remember these behaviours she and I came up with the following acronym: S.E.A.S.P. & silly sentence:
“Sneaky elephants ate stolen peanuts”:
S(it up straight) – Sneaky
E(ye contact) – Elephants
A(ask) – Ate
S(hare / relate to) – Stolen
P(ositivism) – Peanuts
& then … so as to further ingrain these expected behaviours Sherry drew a magnificently silly picture of “sneaky elephants eating stolen peanuts”. The picture was so fantastic that it is now a laminated poster on our wall. Using the poster Sherry then taught the entire class “The ABCs of Active Listening”. We all benefited from this/her learning experience …
& now we’ll just have to wait and see how is all plays out!
At any rate: It was loads of fun.