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Listening key in both classroom and life

Mitchell Elementary School practices the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a Leader In Me School. Years ago, when I first learned about the 7 Habits, the habit that captured my attention was to seek first to understand, then to be understood. This habit is about listening and so much more.

One of the reasons that this habit caught my attention is that being an effective listener is challenging. I have read that one of the reasons humans have difficulty listening to each other is that while the other person is talking, we are crafting our response to them in our minds. We are preparing to speak instead of listening. We all know that we can also be thinking about the next task we have to do or mindlessly looking at our technology.

The Leader in Me gives the staff at Mitchell the opportunity to think purposefully about listening and model it with our students. During their learning, the teachers at Mitchell are continually engaged in discourse with their students and actively listening to their students’ progress in their lessons. This allows our teachers to refine their instruction so that their students can get the most out of their time in the classroom.

Additionally, the staff at Mitchell are continually engaged in listening with our students from the moment they arrive on our campus in the morning until they leave in the afternoon.

We listen to them in the cafeteria, as they line up, throughout our lessons, at lunch, on the playground, and as we send them home at the end of the day. We are not always perfect at it, but listening shows our students that we follow this Habit because it is important to understand others.

Modeling how to build empathy in this way teaches our students that we can avoid and resolve conflicts and improve our collaborations by being curious rather than judgemental.

In short, we can teach that it is possible to make this tough world a little better when everyone has a chance to be heard.

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