Show, Tell, Listen, and Q&A
I think as educators we have a responsibility to include listening as well as presentation skills into all curricula, and at every age and grade level, even in the earliest classroom experiences, with Show, Tell, Listen, and Q&A lessons. Appropriate follow up questions and answers help students focus on the importance of listening to others, as well as interacting socially well. When students understand feedback is not only required, but a necessary skill, it becomes a natural part of conversational engagement. I believe every student should be heard in every classroom each day. While it’s true most of us are focusing on personalized learning, it should also be true that we focus on collaboration, too, and for that we need all the conversational skills.
I was raised in the children are to be seen, but not heard generation. So, very early on, it was ingrained in me to say absolutely nothing for fear of punishment. Looking back today, I consider that to be a bit of child abuse. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately, partly because student voice and teacher voice are so much a passion for me, and partly because it’s interesting the paths I’ve stumbled upon for career choices. For a person, who started out scared to say anything, I’ve more than made up for it in all sorts of ways. I think that it caused me to listen and observe more—and to get really good at it. That is an internal function, and even way back in my childhood, no punishment could reach there. That’s not the way it should be, and I consider myself lucky to have discovered a positive defensive mechanism. We shouldn’t take the chance that entire classrooms of students, anywhere, can figure out a defense for staying silent in a class, each day of a school year.
Today, with blogs and social media anyone, who wants a voice, can have one. I don’t know about you, but social media feeds seem to travel at the speed of light on my computer, tablet, and cell phone. Even with apps that collect from those feeds things you’d like to read, later, it’s difficult to catch it all. Because of that, it gets extremely easy to share something you haven’t read—a Twitter, Facebook, or blog post. And because there is a driving need with social media to say everything you see, hear, experience, it becomes more difficult to actually listen to what others are saying, hearing, or seeing, too. We don’t listen to others as well, so we miss so much. Which brings me back to class. Use of social media concepts can be a great way to have middle, high, and even higher education students experience a higher-level Show, Tell, Listen, and Q&A. And if you don’t think this carries over to the work, career, meetings or boardroom, you’d be mistaken. When was your last idea proposed, and if so, really listened to—and then honestly discussed?
I know that all this takes time, especially in an education world, where even recess time is up for debate, but these conversation and collaborative skills are such precious added value to a school, career, and life. They certainly are as important as anything we teach, and students learn. Make the time for talking and listening in your class each day. It is a teaching, learning, and lifelong gift.
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology experience, as well as a blogger on all things education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.