Friday, February 11, 2011


Are they listening? When they decide to start listening will it be too late? What can I do to get them to listen more? Like most teachers, these are the thoughts that keep me up at night. Recently I had a moment with my class where I shared a few of the realities about being their teacher: long hours grading and planning, late nights worrying, and continued learning how to engage and inspire them. I would not change any of it, but I would love for them to respect and care enough to listen.

I teach reading and the majority of class time is spent reading. When I do have whole class 'lecture' time it is short and sweet. One because I know that their attention is short and sweet and two because I think that most of their time in my room should be spent reading (thanks to The Book Whisperer). A short mini lesson to start the class, maybe a brief interruption if a one-on-one conference sparks the need, and a wrap up at the end. But are they listening?

It is not everyone and it is not all the time, but it is enough to make me wonder why. Why are the kids not listening? A few answers might be: over indulgence, lack of interest, lack of motivation, inability to attend, immaturity, distractions... (I could continue...). The one answer I have that beats them all out is the idea of learned helplessness. I think that we (parents, teachers, churches) are perpetuating this listening crisis. We say it again (even after we said we didn't want to), give more than a fair amount of 'second' chances, micro-manage the lives of the children in our lives. Why do they need to listen?

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