If you are to take a peak into a typical day of a teacher, you’ll see that they’re constantly multi-tasking, almost every minute of the day.
This makes the act of active listening for teachers feel like almost an impossible feat! In fact, it may seem like an unnecessary skill or teaching technique.
But it turns out that active listening is not only possible, it’s also a vital technique that teachers need to have for them to be effective in today’s classrooms!
But what is active listening? And why should teachers arm themselves with these skills?
What is active listening and why teachers should practice it?
Active listening as a skill or a technique allows teachers to communicate effectively by requiring them to hear and understand what their students are communicating.
It can be difficult for you as a teacher to listen actively, especially with how busy you are, but it’s important that you do. Active listening will help you engage with your students better, and not just wait for your students to finish speaking.
You should always try your best to hear what your students are saying and also understand what they are saying in order for active listening techniques like asking open-ended questions and paraphrasing to work well.
When used properly active listening techniques can help you improve your communication between you and your students as you’ll be giving both parties the opportunity to speak freely without the fear of being interrupted or misunderstood.
This means that both you and your students will have a better understanding of each other’s needs and desires which will lead up to better outcomes in terms of learning outputs as well as personal development goals within the classroom setting where interactions take place daily.
Active listening can also help in lowering disruptive behavior and increase academic achievements by making students feel like their voice matters.
Because if students feel like they have a chance at being heard, they will more likely to ask questions (and follow up questions on those questions, too!) or participate in class activities with enthusiasm which is what teachers want, right?
All in all active listening is a great technique that teachers should learn as it can help improve classroom management and overall communication with students.
It’s important that you take your time to practice these techniques as you teach so that you can be confident in your abilities when the time comes for students to listen and respond in class.
9 Active Listening Techniques For Teachers
1.) Give your full attention
The main concept of active listening is taking in the speaker’s message with your full attention intact. This means you should be present physically and mentally when your students are speaking and that you’re focusing on what they have to say.
You need to be able to listen without thinking about what you have to say next or allowing your mind to wander, or how their point fits into your knowledge base.
It’s also important not to compare stories with others around you as this can cause distraction from the speaker’s message and make it hard for them to communicate effectively.
In order for you to do this, it’s important to avoid any distractions while you listen (e.g., looking at something else instead of the speaker). Any interruption should also be unwarranted during the moments that the person who speaks is speaking.
Allow yourself to fully understand and immerse in what your students have to say in order for you to effectively execute active listening.
2.) Ask open-ended and probing questions
Asking questions is an important part of active listening, but you need to know how to ask the right kind of questions.
Try not to go for leading questions but instead opt for open-ended and probing questions that are great for getting students to talk more and share their inputs and feelings towards the subject matter.
Open-ended or probing questions are answered with more than one word, unlike leading questions that are usually answered by yes or no. You also have to make sure that the question you’re asking is relevant to the conversation at hand and not too broad otherwise it might lead someone off the topic.
And try not to ask too many questions at once, as it can cause confusion and potentially distract and take up time that could be used for more important matters (like listening!).
Try questions like; “What are your thought about this?” or “What would you do if you were in that situation?” or maybe “what do you think about what just happened?”.
Think of questions that will have them talk about the topic from their own point of view. This will get them to talk about how they feel and what they think about the topic at hand.
3.) Show empathy
When in a conversation with a student and you find them sharing a personal experience or a story, being empathetic will help you connect with them.
And with your encouraging empathy in the class, eventually, students will be empathetic to each other as well.
By using this active listening skills, you can not only improve and create better relationship with your students as well as other people that you work with but also gain valuable insights into what they really mean when using certain words or phrases—and even help them come up with solutions for problems of their own!
4.) Listen for both verbal and non-verbal cues
We’ve already gone through how active listening is all about understanding what your students are feeling and saying, but it’s important to know that active listening is also about recognizing non-verbal cues.
When you’re listening to your students, pay attention to their words as well as how they speak them.
This means that you should be listening to your students’ body language as well. Try to notice the tone of their voice, facial expressions, and body language—these are things that can say a lot about what the speaker is trying to say, and it’s important to know the full message before you head on to respond.
5.) Paraphrase the speaker’s message back to them
Paraphrasing is a great way to check for understanding that you and the speaker are on the same page about the topic at hand.
It can also be used as an icebreaker when you’re meeting someone new or at a social gathering and need a way to break through their barriers and get the other person to talk about themselves.
Just try to reinstate what the speaker said in your own words, to make sure that you understand the message. Just be sure to use a non-judgemental tone when explaining it back and avoid making assumptions about what you think the speaker is saying (this can be very important especially when you’re working with someone from another culture or background).
6.) Minimize interruption
With active listening, you’ll need to listen mindfully and minimize any kind of interruption. This can be quite difficult especially if you would like to point out something that the speaker has said or you are too excited about what is being said.
However, it is vital for you to allow the speaker to finish their words before you go ahead and respond.
If you don’t understand an idea being presented, try to ask for clarification by paraphrasing or restating what they said, but wait until they have already finished their point.
This is a great way to make sure that you’re getting all of the information you need from the speaker in order to address or solve their concern.
7.) Mirror the speaker’s tone of voice and body language
Another advantageous active listening skill that teachers should practice in the classroom is mirroring.
Mirroring is a form of active listening that requires you to repeat what the speaker has said. This shows them that you are paying attention and that you understand their message.
This can also help students and other people that you are in conversation with feel more comfortable with you, especially if you see that they are nervous about being heard or understood.
Mirroring their expression while they’re talking (mimicking the tone of their voice and body language as well) helps them feel connected with you. This technique can help them relax during tense situations such as students presenting their work or important meetings where there may be pressure to perform well or impress others.
8.) Go out of your comfort zone
Most teachers worry about what other people think. As a result, they tend to make decisions for themselves based on what they think others are expecting of them.
This can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety on your part—and as well all know, these feelings do not make you productive in the classroom!
To become an effective active listener, you’ll need to work on being more open-minded and willing to try new things. You’ll also need to be comfortable with the idea of making yourself vulnerable in order to get better at active listening.
That often means taking risks without knowing how things will work out in the end or even maybe asking for help when you’re struggling with something that you’re not that familiar with yet.
Listening is all about patience. And as we all know, patience is important in all aspects of life, but especially so in the classroom.
It’s important to remember that a lot of times most students don’t know how to express what they want to say, so patience is required.
They are also constantly confused and overwhelmed by what they’re learning, and you need to be patient enough to let them work through their confusion rather than rushing them along.
On top of modeling patience for your students, you should also be patient with yourself—know that sometimes it takes longer than we want for us to learn new things or get used to new ways of doing things.
Remember that everyone learns at their own pace—you can’t expect your student’ attention spans and abilities to match yours accurately.
All things considered,
It’s important for teachers like you to work on your active listening skills constantly, as this has been proven to provide beneficial effects that can evidently enrich the learning environment that you will provide to your students.
And as our world becomes more digitized day by day where it’s easy to get distracted by smartphones and other devices, we all know that it’s not only students who are tempted by this—it can also be quite detrimental for educators as well!