Dr. Judy's Newsletter March-April 2019

The Value of Active Listening

Looming before me was a conference with parents who were concerned that their child was not being challenged enough in math. I was prepared and full of suggestions...and that was the problem. I was a distracted, unfocused listener as they voiced their concerns, jumping in before they finished their questions and thinking ahead about what I'd say next. When I realized it wasn't going well when, I tried to reboot my focus. I listened more, said less, and paid more attention to their tones of voice, postures, and facial expressions. It made a difference and shifted to a positive nature and productive outcome of the conference. As I progressed as a teacher, I learned more about the active listening skills that came to my aide that conference day.

Communication is more than meets the ear

Good communication skills go beyond speaking and listening. They include being tuned in to the speaker's nonverbal behavior, emotions, and deeper meanings beyond the words. By employing
active listening skills in conferences with individual students or their parents, you'll promote mutual understanding and successful outcomes.

What is Active Listening?
Active listening encompasses being non-judgmental, with the emphasis on listening and not immediately solving the issue or problem. Active listeners don't jump ahead to think about solutions while the speaker is still speaking. They refrain from letting defensive feelings kick in.

Actions of Active Listening
Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others such that your students or their parents know you are truly interested in their ideas, concerns, and opinions. The process involves your undivided attention, withholding judgment, and being mindful of your facial expressions and body language as nonverbal communications to show your respect for the speaker.

Suspend judgment
Misunderstandings or jumping to conclusions, often caused by our own biases or expectations based on past experiences, can be reduced in advance. Before and while listening to the speaker, check your own frame of reference to avoid letting your preconceptions or predictions of what will be said interfere with your fully attending to the speaker.

Focus on the speaker

  • posture.
  • be interpreted by the speaker.

No interruptions (or questions)
Even questions you feel are important may potentially interrupt the speaker's flow as well as confidence. If you can, try to remember your question. If you need to, write your questions and thoughts down, but explain before the conference that what you write is to help you remember things said and that you want to ask. To reinforce trust and further communication, keep these open for the speaker to see.

Wait time benefits: Pausing before you respond serves several purposes

    Responses after the wait time


        Summary of Active Listening


          As you build upon your active listening skills, you'll find your conversational partners' positive emotional states and responses reflect their trust and awareness that they have your full, nonjudgmental attention.


          Books by Judy Willis, M.D.
          Upgrade Your Teaching: Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience by Jay McTighe and Judy Willis, M.D.   Annual Editors’ Selected ASCD Membership Book  (Release Mar/Apr 2019) http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Upgrade-Your-Teaching.aspx?utm_source=membership&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mmbr-Apr-2019-Book-Choice

          Research-Based Strategies To Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist/Classroom Teacher, ASCD 2006 http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107006.aspx

          Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies that Change Student Attitudes and Get Results,
          ASCD 2010 http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108073.aspx?utm_source=ascdfacebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=math-willis-fb

          The Neuroscience of Learning: Principles and Applications for Educators. (2014) Bridgepoint Education, Inc. https://learn.thuze.com/store/product/THUZE.HSS.PSY.9781621781639

          How Your Child Learns Best
          : Brain-Based Ways to Ignite Learning and Increase School Success. Foreword by Goldie Hawn. Sourcebooks: 2008. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Child-Learns-Best-Brain-Friendly/dp/1402213468

          Teaching the Brain to Read: Strategies for Improving Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension ASCD August 2008. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107073.aspx

          Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom, ASCD 2007 http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107040.aspx

          Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, And Challenging. Great Potentials Press, 2008. http://amzn.to/1wwMsg4

          Below are some useful links to some of my popular links to which you can link and reproduce the items of use to you:
          Edutopia’s 'Big Thinker on Education' and Staff Blogger
          “Meet Dr Judy Willis, EDUTOPIA Staff Blogger”  https://www.edutopia.org/users/judy-willis-md (This works best if you cut and paste web address)

          NBC News Education Nation Staff Expert and Blogger Parent Toolkit

          Psychology Today" How Children Learn online staff writer: Articles regarding learning and the brain: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching

          I'm looking forward to lots of presentations, conferences, district, and school talks in the coming months. You can check these on my website.

          Keep igniting,

          Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed. jwillisneuro@aol.com www.RADTeach.com