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Teaching Strategies to Become a “Listening” Educator

Janelle Cox

One of the most important teaching strategies an educator can possess is to be a good listener. Good listeners pay attention and focus on what the speaker is conveying. As teachers, one of the skills that we expect out of our students is for them to listen, but how often have we thought about how well we listen? Listening is a two-way process that both we as teachers and our students must commit to. If we want to effectively communicate with our students, then we have to use teaching strategies to become a “Listening” teacher.

Teaching Strategies: How are Your Listening Skills?

In order to become a better listener, we must first reflect upon our own listening skills. Think about when a student is speaking to you, do you interrupt them, or are you really listening to what they have to say? Do you ever multitask when your students are speaking to you? Do you ever find that your thoughts wander when students are speaking, or do you ever use a non-verbal cue to end a conversation? If you find that you do any of the things mentioned, then you need to learn how to become an active listener.

What is an Active Listener?

Active listening is when one person concentrates their focus on the person who is speaking. It’s a way of listening to a person with the goal of understanding what they are trying to say. Most of the time, when we listen to someone speak, our minds wander or we are only half listening. Being an active listener entails paraphrasing what the person said or asking questions to clarify the information that they said.

What are the Benefits of Listening?

The reason why it’s important to be a “Listening” teacher is because it helps you connect with your students better. One way to build a good rapport with your students is to listen to them. When a student knows that you are listening to them, they will trust you, and when you have trust you have a connection. It also enables you to understand the student better. When you can understand a student, then you are better able to teach them. Lastly, it encourages students to have a voice. When students know that you are there to listen, then they become an active participation in their own education.

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How to Become a Better Listener

There are a few things that you can do to become a better listener. Here are a few teacher-tested tips you can follow.

  • Focus on the student speaking and don’t let your mind wander or multitask. If you find that you are not focusing, then try and bring your attention back on the student and focus your attention to the students’ lips moving.
  • Check your body language to ensure that it isn’t sending out any wrong signals. Make sure your eyes are focused on the students’ face, your hands on not waving around or in a position of aggravation, and that you are showing the student that you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Summarize what the student says after they speak to show them that you were listening to everything that they were saying. This will not only show the student that you were playing attention but it will show yourself that you were too.

Instructional Practices to Employ

To better your listening skills, you can employ a few instructional practices into your daily schedule. Here are a few try in your classroom.

Morning Meetings

A great way to build a sense of classroom community is to have a morning meeting with your students. Many teachers find this an effective way to learn more about their students. Encourage students to talk about any concerns or issues that they may have. Your job is to be an active listener and engage by asking questions or summarizing what each student has said.

Student Reflections

Take the time to listen to students’ concerns in a more intimate way by giving each student some one-on-one time with you. Allow students to speak their thoughts while you actively listen, summarize what the student has said, then ask any questions that can help you better understand them.

Becoming a “Listening” teacher is a great way to build a meaningful relationship with your students. It will not only improve your teaching, but the way that your students learn as well.

Are you an active listener? Please feel free to leave your teaching strategies, thoughts, and comments in the section below, we would love to hear from you.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.