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Listen! (How to Move Past a Culture of Performing for the Grade)

Session 2
Cindy Sabik, Eileen Glassmire — Worcester Academy

We are a culture that is not accustomed to listening closely, deeply or well. The traditional model of education with an emphasis on delivery of content required passive consumption/listening on the part of students. When we decided to become more “student-centered,” students could occasionally speak and lectures became minimally interactive. As the notion of “student-centered” evolved to include voice and choice, it generally remained teacher-centered, as all responses, questions and otherwise, went to and through the teacher. We continue to be challenged to develop a truly collaborative learning model, to define and enact student agency. A component we need to explore deeply is the seldom-considered skill of listening. From the classroom to the boardroom we have been conditioned to perform: to answer, promote, explain, defend, illuminate, convince—all active, delivery-based, and performative. Reflection is a secondary activity. The simple transaction in the content-delivery model required only passive consumption; in the new pedagogical economy, based on a collaborative model in a growth mindset, a thoughtful statement is owed a thoughtful response borne out of being fully present to the other, listening carefully and responding fully. From the Socratic seminar in humanities to the “talk moves” in our STEM classes, to making full use of the more democratic and inclusive space of the online classroom, listening is our underdeveloped skill. In this session we describe classroom practices, invite participants to engage in a brief listening exercise, then engage in a discussion of implications for classroom practice.

Conversational Practice

After describing several iterations of the Socratic seminar used in our humanities classrooms, and the “talk moves” used by our STEM teachers, we invite participants to engage in a listening exercise, give each other feedback on their reflective listening skills, then engage in a facilitated discussion of implications for reflective practice in classrooms across the disciplines, blended and online learning, and faculty support and development.

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