In the last post (see here http://www.timeless-teaching.com/learning-its-a-communication-thing/ )we were discussing what the responsibility of the teacher as a communicator is. But as we said, you can only facilitate learning, you cannot force anything. On the learner-listener’s part there has to be a willingness to listen and a desire to get it right.
As a listener there are certain steps you want to take to try to improve successful communication.
All these steps hold true for the learner-listener.
- Being prepared – this may include readings, homework, etc.
- Be rested – listening is hard work, if you are tired you can’t listen well. To drive this point home, I have my speech pathology students do a project in which they have to wear ear plugs in a social setting for ½ hour (NOT while walking in the street as that is VERY dangerous). They then have to write about their experience from a communicative and emotional perspective. A common finding is how surprisingly exhausting listening is when you have to put more work into it.
- Stay healthy – if you have ever had a bad cold you know how hard it is to concentrate on listening when you are not well.
- Be relaxed – the perfectionistic student who takes dictation rather than notes (more on that later) and frantically interrupts the teacher’s lesson to catch a missed word may be hearing the teacher but isn’t listening to or understanding what the teacher is trying to communicate. The anxiety of hearing every word distracts from the listening.
- Minimize environmental distractions as much as possible – this may include noise, poor lighting on the speaker, bright lights in the listener’s eyes, etc.
- Look at the teacher-speaker.
- Use context to figure out what was most likely said.
- Use previous knowledge to figure out what was most likely said.
- Look for ideas not isolated words – teach this tip to your dictation taker.
- Confirm you understood correctly by rephrasing – “So what you are saying is…”
- If you missed something, ask the teacher-speaker to repeat by telling them what you did hear and asking them to only fill-in the blanks. This shows you are putting some effort into the relationship and you do care.
Now that we know everyone’s responsibility what should we teach? As a first step I would teach the listener their responsibility and how to optimize success, by utilizing the above.
Until next time…
There is a key ingredient missing here. Do you know what it is?