It is almost November and this is my first blog for the school year, oops! But better late than never, right??
In my conversations, meetings, books I’m reading, and professional learning opportunities lately a common thread has emerged: Listening to Understand. What does that mean to you? Is that something you think about?
I have am amazing opportunity to work with the Teaching and Learning Alliance on a Lab School Cohort on my campus. Our coach is Cynthia, and she is someone that you can learn so many things from! What I’ve noticed most is her ability to listen. And I mean, to really listen. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in such a hurry to get through life: run an errand, plan this lesson, attend this meeting, make these copies, hurry up and get dinner ready, rush kids to activities, swing by the grocery store, hurry kiddos into bed, and etc. Everything is GO, GO, GO! But not with Cynthia. She does an amazing job of really leaning in to the conversations around her. Every time she is on our campus, no matter the audience or environment, you can feel the slowing down in the room. The time to think and reflect and listen is established by her modeling. She takes time to listen. And she listens to UNDERSTAND. She’s not listening to respond.
Is that something you do? I’ve been working on my committed listening and listening to understand for awhile now!
A few years ago, on an Instructional Coach meeting day, we did a mini conference. I presented a session titled: What did you say? Polish listening skills and practice coaching conversations. The session was about listening as it was something I was working on at the time (and what better way to help yourself improve and learn more than to sign up to present on what you are working on). In my district, we are surrounding by books and book studies! At that time, I had received a book called: Coaching Conversations by Linda Cheliotes and Marceta Reilly. I structured my session around the listening skills assessment and what I had learned from reading that book. The listening skills assessment forces you to really look at how you participate in conversations and guides you into finding ways to improve.
This semester, the book we are reading with the Instructional Coaches, is titled: Thanks for the Feedback by Stone and Heen. The book is about how to receive feedback. As coaches, we need to work on how to deliver feedback/how to coach teachers to reach their potential. But it seems, we also need to take a look at how we receive feedback ourselves. On Friday, we discussed Chapter 2. As part of that, we discussed listening first to understand. We must always seek to first understand someone’s point of view. That instantly connected with me! From thinking about Cynthia in the Lab School Cohort, to Coaching Conversations with committed listening and really leaning in to Listen to Understand and not to respond. So time to dig back in to listening, to coaching conversations, to giving and receiving feedback, and to really listening to understand.
Deep stuff for a Sunday night! Any additional advice on listening?