A Mysterious But Powerful Way To Improve Listening

Smart Classroom Management: A Mysterious But Powerful Way To Improve ListeningWe’ve covered the topic of speaking so students will listen extensively here at SCM.

We’ve talked about the importance of not repeating yourself.

We’ve talked about volume and pacing.

We’ve talked about timing, pausing, brevity, clarity, and eye contact.

But what we have yet to cover is perhaps the single most important key to improving listening.

It’s a strategy that isn’t as straightforward as those mentioned above.

In fact, why it works so well is a bit of a mystery. Because, you see, it’s not about what you do. It’s about what you believe.

So what is it?

It’s conviction.

It’s the feeling or belief behind your words. When you speak with conviction, it sends a signal along an alternative wavelength, reaching students just as strong as when it left your mouth.

It lets them know that what you say matters, that it’s important and worth listening to. It’s something they can feel and sense in their bones.

So where does this level of conviction come from?

Well, it doesn’t come from trying to convince yourself you really mean it. It doesn’t come from false confidence, deepening your voice, or pretending you’re serious this time.

It comes from doing what you say you’re going to do. It comes from your consistency and follow through.

It comes from an almost obsessive desire to show your students, prove to them, that you can be counted on every hour of every day.

When you say something, your students have to know they can take it to the bank.

For every time you go back on your word or let misbehavior go without the consequence you promised, you weaken your influence and lose trust in the eyes of your students.

You also lose it in your own eyes.

To speak with the weightiness needed to get even students you’ve just met to listen to you, you must have a near fanatical commitment to following through.

There is an unmistakable aura that accompanies teachers with authentic conviction, a distinct vibration of speech that is borne of the perfect symmetry between words and actions.

Do what you say and when you say you’re going to do it, and you’ll speak with a mysterious power that can move mountains.

That causes students to lean in, lock their eyes on you . . .

And listen.

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13 Responses to A Mysterious But Powerful Way To Improve Listening

  1. how we learn October 21, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    True. Absolutely true. When I have this moment with one of my own children or one of my students it always reminds me of “these are not the droids you are looking for”. When followed by “showing” or “modeling” and then maintenance of the message/modeling the strategy is fierce.

    • Kerry October 22, 2017 at 11:34 am #

      YES!! It’s like you are describing what I do when trying to convince a student they CAN do something because “I KNOW you can do it”. It’s like my words are an enormous injection of self confidence – I guess you can see I work with low achieving, “problem” labelled, behaviour difficult students. Belief, modelling, allowing consistent opportunities for success, allowing learning to be seen in an interesting and enjoyable way, and rebuilding positive student…….that’s my goal in my classroom. The academic “stuff” follows easily. I’m very interested to learn more!

  2. Chris October 22, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    It is indeed, as you say, somewhat mysterious, but indisputable and effective, this inner conviction. Whenever I have doubts behind what I’m saying or doing, students sense it, too, even though superficially I may sound nearly the same as usual, or even firmer than usual. Genuiness, caring, and confidence are paramount in order to be listened to. Thanks for this well-worded reminder; we can’t hear it too often.

    • Michael Linsin October 22, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

      You’re welcome, Chris. Thanks for sharing your experience—so true.

  3. MsHope October 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    I agree. I have been forced to use a scripted curriculum about a year ago. I detest it. I really don’t even understand half of what I am supposed to “teach.” Nor do I think the content is important or valuable. This article really explains a lot.

    Could you consider doing an article for those of us who are forced to use terrible curriculums? It almost makes me what to quit. Thank you.

    • Michael Linsin October 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

      Will do, Ms. Hope. I definitely hear you and agree. I’ll put your suggestion on the list of future articles. In the meantime, how to deliver content that students love and are motivated to learn is a passion of mine, which I’ll touch on in next week’s article.

  4. Kay October 22, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    It’s difficult to have that conviction when you know your follow through might be met with hostility from a parent. When you know one parent is going to be hostile (and get away with it), you also know the other students will wonder why you follow through with them, but not with that one child. You find yourself thinking you aren’t being fair to the other students, but you know you are powerless to get that one child to behave. It eats away at your ability to control your class.

  5. Tahira October 23, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    Its absolutely true. It is a useful technique, I’ll definitely try it .

  6. JoAnn Suchy October 25, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    I just love your blog, and your books! I started implementing your strategies during the last quarter of last year after feeling I was at my witts end with two sixth grade boys. They and their parents had criticized my classroom managment saying I was unfair and picking on them. The boys were extremely disrespectful, but I finally realized I was to blame. I hit the ground running this fall and I have had the best year ever! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • Michael Linsin October 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

      It’s my pleasure, JoAnn. Congratulations on your success!

  7. Erin October 27, 2017 at 12:24 am #

    Hi Michael, I’ve done a search but can’t seem to find one. Do you have an article about dealing with kids who are distructive with property? Breaking pencils, wasting paper, drawing on desks, allowing for books to be stepped on and torn, writing in books, breaking teaching materials… The list goes on and on.
    It’s pretty easy to tell when it’s just an accident, but that’s rare anyway. Most of this happen when they are either extremely negligent (throw their books on the ground and don’t even bother to step over it when walking by) or very purposely distructive. They know they’ll get a replacement, or else they have an excuse not to participate.
    I don’t feel I should have to spend my money to replace these thing, and some are irreplaceable anyway.

    • Michael Linsin October 27, 2017 at 7:03 am #

      Hi Erin,

      I’ll put it on the list of future articles. Thanks for the suggestion.

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