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LMS

Active listening

Behaviour Management

Active listening

a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Teacher aide working with a student.

Listening is just as important as speaking. Active listening is where teachers paraphrase the key points from a conversation in order to show the speaker that they understood. It is a simple strategy used when in conversation with students who are upset. Active listening can reduce tension quickly and easily. Often students just want to be heard and once they have vented their frustration, they are as good as new. Active listening is the technique used to achieve this outcome. Here is how to do it:

  • Sit in a quiet and private place where you won't be interrupted.
  • Position yourself close to the student without intruding on personal space.
  • Focus your attention on what the student is saying. Give him or her your full attention.
  • Show interest by using body language (e.g. nodding, leaning forward, making eye contact).
  • Be responsive to what the student is saying.
  • Try to make meaning of words in the context of the student’s language abilities and vocabulary.
  • Ask open-ended questions (do not do this in a disclosure situation re abuse or neglect).
  • Check for meaning and understanding.
  • Ask confirming questions such as: 'So you feel sad/scared when…?'
  • Allow for short periods of silence for thinking and reflection.
  • Be aware of cultural issues.
  • Keep an open mind – don't rush to judgement.
  • Don't give opinions, solutions or emotional responses – you are listening only.
  • Check understanding by paraphrasing or summarising. Say: 'Okay, so what you're saying is …?'.
  • Finish the conversation by thanking the student for their honesty and for sharing.

Hint: Active listening is especially important when students are disclosing abuse or neglect (known as a ‘disclosure’). If you find yourself in this situation, do not ask ‘probing questions’ or ‘leading questions’ because doing so may impinge on future legal processes (avoid any possibility that you could be accused of ‘coaching’ them in what to say). If the matter is investigated, case officers need students to be able to express their experiences and feelings in their own words – not yours.

About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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