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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens

This is a quote by Jimi Hendrix that I think speaks volumes to the plight of teachers and administrators in a time-ruled world. Taking the time to listen to others, whether they be students, parents, or teachers, can make or break the effect you can have on a conversation and in a relationship.

In a school day that is governed by lesson blocks, break times, supervision minutes and planning times, it can be difficult for a teacher to consistently find the time to actually listen to your class and their ideas. I don’t mean that teachers are ignoring their students and pushing ahead with verbally-delivered lectures, but I do mean that the core things that matter to students (unless they directly relate to the lesson or activity) can often be shuffled into the background and not given a forum for discussion.

Wisdom would tell us to sit back and listen. What we are told by students matters. It needs to drive instruction and forge lasting relationships through the cultivation of a strong rapport. Teachers have all kinds of knowledge, but it is through their commitment to listening and absorbing knowledge from others that they can truly develop a sense of strength and purpose. Taking the pulse in your room is one of the most significant ways to guide a group and develop rapport.

As a leader, wisdom can elude us. It is a challenge to exude control and yet show the strength to listen and observe. We often feel the urgency in the room when conversation slips or becomes “off track.” Yet, in my experience the most meaningful and relevant comments can come out of those digressions and interpersonal experiences. It takes a confident leader to recognize and address those digressions to get to the heart of the matter and encourage meaningful discussions. By ignoring or re-directing those interactions we are alienating people from their own ideas and motivations to communicate what is important and valid to them.

Listen intently and wisdom will find you - comments that fall on deaf ears can often be the ones most in need of volume and advocacy.

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