Message from Karen Friede, Head of Primary School – May 2019

Listening Is Not The Same As Hearing

Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses their body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.

Teachers, parents and students need to be proficient at listening not only to what our children are saying but to actively listen to what message the child is trying to convey. In our class sessions our teaching teams listen and document what the students are thinking to inform their teaching and provide meaningful learning opportunities. This also provides the opportunity for listening to occur not just with the words being spoken but with the tone and body language that convey effective communication.

Restorative Practice is used widely in our Primary School to support students who may come into conflict with another member of the community. Its intended focus is to actively listen to the issues at hand. Students are encouraged to make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent and take and consider an appropriate action.

Feedback and ‘feedforward’ is always offered to our students. As the student actively listens to suggestions made for improvement, a dialogue is encouraged so the student fully understands what are the next stages needed to improve.

Listening is more than what one hears. There is an inner listening that we prioritise at Bialik. We offer our students opportunities throughout our day to be mindful, paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement.

You may see our students start each day with a run around the Krongold Oval, counting their steps, reflecting on the weather, the sky or indeed anything in our natural environment. They are not just clearing their minds for new learning but using the environment to create schema for so many new opportunities including science, art, maths or literacy.

Walk through the Primary zones at Homeroom to hear the students singing songs with a strong social message or engage in mindful reading just to warm up their brains for the day. See our classes, after recess or lunch, use a mindful app such at ‘Smiling Minds’ or ‘Yoga Moves’ to settle them after an unstructured play session.

Active listening also involves helping our students listen to their inner feelings as well. Understanding their emotions and recognising when and how they can ‘still‘ their bodies.

In our last week of May our Primary students will engage in explicit experiences of mindfulness to develop further strategies to enable them to independently practise and better understand how to listen and steady their minds .

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