(Adapted from www.osr.state.ga.us/bestprac/class/cm-3.htm)
An important skill for teachers to master is active listening.
When teachers listen actively, they send children the message that
they are important enough to have the teacher's undivided attention.
When a teacher is an active listener, she is able to guide children
to solve problems for themselves. Active listening is a bit of a
misnomer since it is your responses that are key in this technique.
Depending on what the child has said, an active response would
be to (a) paraphrase what you have just heard (this could
include helping the child label feelings or describe a situation),
and when appropriate, (b) ask a question that will lead the child
to her own solution. When a child has clearly described something
that happened, an active response is one where the teacher restates
the situation, labeling any feelings that have been shared. For
example, Deloris comes to her teacher and says, "It's my turn to
play with the kangaroo puzzle, and Lisa won't give it to me." An
active response would be, "You sound angry, Deloris. What can you
do to work this out with Lisa?" If Deloris has solved problems before
she may be able to suggest talking to Lisa or sharing the puzzle.
If not, the teacher would offer to go with her and guide her to
tell Lisa what the problem is and help them come up with a solution.
Although it would be easier for the teacher to tell Deloris and
Lisa that they have to share or take the puzzle away until the children
stop arguing, the active listening response lets the children know
that the teacher has confidence that they can work it out. Teachers
who use active listening understand that their goal is for children
to learn to become active problem-solvers for themselves.
There are four basic active listening techniques: encouraging,
restating, reflecting, and summarizing. Use encouraging
responses such as "uh-huh", "go on", "I see", and "tell me more
about that" to encourage the student to continue talking. You may
be surprised at how much more a student will say with a minimal
amount of encouragement. Restating responses such as "it sounds
like you didn't do very well on your math test" or "you forgot your
homework" mirror the facts that the student has shared. You may
want to use restating responses to show that you understand what
the student has said to you. You may also want to use restating
responses when you think that the student may notice inconsistencies
in his or her own statements. Reflecting responses such as "you
seem to feel that... " or "you seem to be afraid that..." capture
the essence of the feelings that the student has expressed. Summarizing
responses pull important ideas and facts together. Summarizing statements
establish a basis for further discussion and also help you to review
what you've discussed and the progress that you have made. Examples
of summarizing statements include "You're really not certain what
you want to do" or "You seem pulled in two directions..." The chart
details the purpose and procedures for the four different active
Active Listening Techniques
|TYPE OF STATEMENT
||TO ACHIEVE PURPOSE
- To convey interest.
- To keep the person
|Don't agree or disagree.
Use noncommittal words with positive tone of voice.
- "I see..."
- "That's interesting..."
- Tell me more about
- To show that
you are listening and understand.
- To let the person know
your grasp the facts.
|Restate the other's basic
ideas, emphasizing the facts.
- "If I understand, your
- "In other words, this
is your decision..."
- To show that you are
listening and understand.
- To let others know
you understand their feelings.
|Restate the other's basic
- "You seem to feel that..."
- "You sound like you
were pretty disturbed by this...
- To pull important ideas,
facts, etc. together.
- To establish a basis
for further discussion.
- To review progress.
|Restate, reflect, and summarize
major ideas and feelings.
- "These seem to be the
key ideas you have expressed..."
- "If I understand you,
you feel this way about the situation."