Listen with Open Ears

It is one thing to listen; it is another to hear.

Photo of Laura Terrazas

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There are many people who want to contribute to learning and growing.  Sometimes when these people come to us with ideas, we only listen and nod and say the right words and then move on to whatever task we need to complete.  It is important to engage in a conversation and really listen and hear what someone is saying to ensure we understand what the person wants to share. It takes courage to share a thought or idea and this needs to be fostered.  If we do not listen fully, and truly hear what someone is trying to share with us then the ideas will stop coming.


Some things that may hinder this type of conversation are: our own biases, cell phones, meetings that are not given enough time or maybe listening to too many people at one time.

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Photo of Emma Scripps
Team

Hey Laura, 

This is interesting! Makes me wonder - if soft skills (listening, communication) are so important - what would a PD around developing these skills look like? Could be fun to think about developing out some content on that. 

- E

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

I have been thinking about this as well.  Where I work this is a huge issue - because we are on line. When we all meet in person we are constantly checking our phones and emails on our computers.   So we start with some rules- no open computers, no phones- but what I have realized is that most people are just waiting for break to answer all the emails that are stacking up.  So I have been trying to think about something that will bring everyone back in and make them slow down and listen and ensure that everyone understands how it pertains to them.  The other issue is when we do our PDs on line- again people are multi tasking so I cannot say how much active listening is going on.  

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Are you a fan of sketchnoting? I wonder if producing visual artifacts from listening would be a good way to build trust. 

I also think you would enjoy the Chalk Talk thinking routine in the book Making Thinking Visible. Have you any experience with thinking routines? 

Photo of Caroline King
Team

So critical and area that impacts success for PD. I like  two words when people share, "Thank You." Then I do not respond. A little like Quaker sharing style. Everyone heard. Thanks for bringing this to the discussion

Photo of Molly McMahon
Team

Hi Laura! I really love this idea.  I too believe in the power of listening. This last year TED gave their $1M prize to StoryCorps not just to capture stories, but to build a culture of listening. This Thanksgiving I am going to be using it to listen to my Dad and uncle's family stories, and capture and share them with my family. Because this is a favorite idea, I'd love to push you even further. What would a solution for better listening look like? Think about moments when you have listened or been listened to. What would be helpful to recreate that experience regularly? Is it a checklist? Is it space? Is it an app? Is it a workshop? This is the phase to go wild.... don't be held back by constraints but dream. Imagine what might be possible. And, here is the Story Corps app for inspiration -- https://storycorps.me/. This is such a great start! 

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

I ABSOLUTELY love the app! I interviewed my grandmother when I was in 8th grade ( just a few years ago). I so wish I had something like this then.  Thank you for sharing.  These questions you guys are throwing at me are great- it is really getting me to think in different directions. 

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Listening is absolutely essential for our own growth. And when someone truly listens to you, it is a way of showing care and respect. How might we guarantee this happens in the context of professional development? Should every session begin/end with a listening protocol?  

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

I have been thing about what you asked.  I do like a template or protocol idea to help support with active listening.  Many times handouts are given out for PPts and it could be as easy as having participants create columns that have headings such as - what is the presenters main point, what do/ don't I understand/ how does this pertain to me/ how can I utilize it/ roadblocks/ questions.  This way when there is question time, audience members can go back and ask questions and get ideas how to implement what is being presented- or if they feel the information is not applicable to them- they can ask questions as well and maybe have a better understanding on how it does pertain to them.

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Yes! I especially love your point about roadblocks to understanding, and questions about how to utilize what's being presented. 

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

I think for some people active listening needs to be taught. What does it look like, what distracts others etc.  One item that every PD could start with is turning off the cell phone and not just putting it on vibration. 
I think one way presentations can change to ensure active listening is to create an atmosphere where the audience is engaged and having two way discussions. If the presenter is just speaking at the audience they may tune out.    

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

Okay, so some clear norms about active listening could help, especially something that specifies when/how people should use devices for communicating. Also, I hear you – it's super important for PD to model the same type of learning experiences we want our students to have too!