Do you have to repeat yourself constantly because your students just don’t know how to listen? Maybe it’s not them. Here are five ways to get them listening without yelling.
1. Stop talking.
Teachers love to talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. (So do ninjas-it’s amazing we get anything done.) Instead, try silence. Wait for them to be quiet, with an evil eye of course. If they interrupt, stop and wait. It may take a few tries, but they will get the hang of it.
2. Model it.
Show them the body language that comes with good listening. Teach them to face the speaker and wait to speak or ask questions until after the speaking has finished talking. Model it when they speak to you. Praise students who demonstrate listening body language. And more important, be a good listener when students are talking to you!
3. Keep it short and specific.
Sometimes it’s miscommunication, not poor listening. Have students repeat back to you what they are to do and give them visual cues when possible. Keep the number of steps down to no more than their grade level at a time or give them a checklist to work from.
4. Appoint a leader or liaison.
Give the students their instructions and then appoint one student who will answer the other students’ questions about what to do. All questions must go through the leader or liaison and if that student isn’t sure how to answer, they may come to you for assistance. They will gain a new appreciation for your job.
5. Teach them a valuable lesson.
Have a discussion with your students about the acceptable number of times a teacher needs to ask them to do something. Let’s say it’s “three” for this hypothetical situation. Prepare your lesson or activity to be repeated the number of times students think is acceptable. So, when they finish the activity the first time, start it all over again. They’ll ask why and you can tell them they chose three times to do everything. If the teacher has to ask the students to do everything three times, then the students should have to do everything three times, too.
Have you ever tried teaching explicit listening skills? We designed a product around listening skills because we though it was so important. It’s found in our Life-Long Learning Unit.
And it is worth mentioning, that sometimes a listening problem is actually a hearing problem. Reduce background noises and follow up with students who are hearing or are having trouble processing what they hear.
Do you have any other tried a true ways to get them listening? Let us know in the comments section below.