Active Listening Strategies For Charismatic Student Conversations

Active listening involves employing variegated behaviors to enhance understanding among two or increasingly people in a conversation.

An zippy listener is present in the conversation. They hear the speaker’s words and pay sustentation to their soul language in order to make connections. The smart-ass is engaged, picking up on overarching themes or repeated phrases that indicate the essence of a speaker’s message. The fewer people engaged in a conversation, the increasingly difficult it is to feign zippy listening.

Such a skill is particularly important for 21st-century learners. In an age of information overload and distractions galore, some may find it increasingly difficult to sustain sustentation during a conversation. Zippy listening conveys empathy and understanding. It builds trust and confidence. It signals that the listener cares well-nigh the speaker and/or their message.

Active listening is, perhaps, the foundation to a successful Socratic Seminar, Fishbowl conversation, or round of Philosophical Chairs. Beyond matriculation discussions, zippy listening is essential for assignments and activities that require students to read, listen to podcasts, interview subjects, provide peer feedback, and participate in restorative justice sessions.

We can set up a dichotomy between zippy and passive listening–it’s (mostly) obvious when someone is feigning interest, mildly distracted, or totally checked out of a conversation. Teachers and students unwrinkled can tell, when they are speaking, if someone is annoyed, preoccupied, or bored.

As teachers incorporate increasingly elements of collaborative learning in their lesson plans, it is hair-trigger that they model zippy listening to their students. Modeling zippy listening is just as important at the upper school level as it is at the elementary level–educators should never seem that their students are practiced in these seemingly simple skills. Below, we’ve listed ten strategies to model for students in order to modernize their zippy listening skills. Students should have multiple opportunities to practice these skills, and we’ve included some ideas for how teachers can model each strategy. If any readers have used activities that we haven’t listed, we’d love to hear them.

10 Zippy Listening Strategies To Propel Charismatic Conversations Among Students (And Teachers!)

(1) Use affirming facial cues, soul language, gestures, and nonverbal signs

With zippy listening, the listener is physically oriented toward the person speaking. Whether sitting or standing, the listener faces their soul toward the person speaking. Their eye contact is focused on the speaker, instead of on other distractions or priorities. An zippy listener’s posture is upright and engaged, versus slouched or withdrawn. One way that we teach this most vital zippy listening skill is by pairing students up and posing a question, such as, “What was the most meaningful moment of your life?” “What do you squint for in a friend?” “Describe your favorite vacation and explain what made it great.” Depending on the yoke between the students, you may want to ask increasingly low-stakes questions for less-familiar students, who may be hesitant to show vulnerability with a new peer. After you’ve given the pairs some time to think well-nigh their response, you then share that the first person will have an unshortened minute to share their answer, while the second person can only listen and communicate using their body. After a minute, they switch roles. In this minute, the listener can nod, raise their eyebrows, lean forward, squeeze their hands, smile…but they cannot speak. It is quite entertaining to watch the listeners, on the one hand, struggle with not stuff worldly-wise to tinkle in with their own experience–but that’s exactly the point. Forcing them to refrain from speaking helps them focus on the behaviors they can employ to show empathy and understanding. On the other hand, increasingly reticent speakers may struggle with filling an unshortened minute with speech. This struggle brings us to our next strategy.

(2) Embrace silence

Ahh, silence…usually paired with the adjective ‘awkward,’ silence in a conversation is where the magic really happens. Just considering someone is not speaking doesn’t midpoint that they aren’t thinking. Silence is often an indicator of thought processing, metacognition, and introspection. In an worriedness like the one we just described, there is unseat to be silence in the first round or two of practicing zippy listening. It may be wise for teachers to–after the first round–ask them how they felt well-nigh the silence. Did it make them finger anxious? Did it make the speaker finger frozen? Did it make the listener want to fill the gap? What is it well-nigh silence that makes us finger awkward? These are questions worth pondering. In the second round of the worriedness we’ve described, the teacher can uncontrived the students to pay sustentation to the moments of silence in the conversation. The listener might consider why it is difficult for the speaker to protract elaborating or sharing. What might be holding them back? Fear? Distrust? Lack of wits or opinion? These kinds of considerations are the (literal) unspoken factors in a dialogue that can communicate volumes. Rencontre the listeners within the pairs to overdraw their nonverbal skills, depending on why they think the speaker is silent. This could be a time to maintain eye contact, offer a knowing glance, or requite an encouraging nod.

(3) Summarize or paraphrase the speaker’s statements when to them using key words

Once students have gotten increasingly well-appointed with using their nonverbal liaison skills, teachers can offer up a new prompt to discuss and a new rencontre for the listeners. In this round, the listeners are worldly-wise to speak. “Yippee!” they will surely scream…but not so fast! The focus is still on the speaker. This time, the only time the listener can speak is to paraphrase the speaker’s statements when to them. Paraphrasing is variegated than simply repeating what the speaker said, word for word. It involves paying sustentation to unrepealable words that the speaker touches on in order to discern a theme. Based on the speaker’s language, what did an wits midpoint to them? How do they finger well-nigh a particular topic? What reasoning do they use to justify their actions? The paraphrasing does not have to occur at the end of the sixty-second round–the listener can paraphrase throughout the minute. The teacher may plane double the speaker’s talking time in order to indulge for increasingly meaningful dialogue. Paraphrasing can be an incredibly powerful tool. It is a way to show that we are paying attention, that we care, that what the speaker is saying is important and we value their experiences and emotions. Each student should get several rounds of practice with this hair-trigger skill, which is essential for any job or relationship in the so-called ‘real world.’

(4) Ask probing or clarifying questions

Students who have had sufficient practice with paraphrasing the speaker’s words when to them can build upon their zippy listening skills by asking questions meant to sieve or prompt the speaker to elaborate. Truly flipside form of paraphrasing, asking questions demonstrates that the listener has attempted to process the sensory data they’ve received and are now intent on filling in the gaps. Asking questions is a way to participate in a conversation without dominating. In the next round of zippy listening practice, the teacher might ask a new question of the speaker, then inform the listeners that they are now unliable to ask questions. Ideally, they will ask open-ended questions meant to elicit increasingly than a simple yes/no answer; that stuff said, yes/no questions certainly aren’t off limits! It is important that the teacher model this process. Depending on the nature of the prompt, it might be helpful for the instructor to offer sentence stems to the listeners. For example, let’s say the question for this round is, “What role do you play in your family?” Examples of sentence stems to respond to the speaker might include: “What makes you finger that way?” “How do you know?” “What do you like well-nigh your role?” “How would you like to transpiration your role?” These questions hogtie the speaker to think increasingly tightly well-nigh their response while conveying that the listener is paying sustentation and genuinely curious well-nigh the response.

(5) Unclose (or largest yet, synthesize) a previous point surpassing sharing your thoughts

Now it’s time to take the listening process a step further. In this next round of dialogue, the pairs can continue, or the teacher can combine two dyads to form a group of four. Increasingly participants ways increasingly information and emotion to absorb, which can be increasingly challenging for students who are new to zippy listening. Regardless of student combinations, the next level of zippy listening challenges students to be both speakers and listeners at the same time. The one caveat is that–before sharing their own thoughts–each student must unclose a previous point first. Sentence stems are definitely useful in this round. Stems like “I understand how…” and “when you said…” and “I stipulate with” are a few helpful examples. By supporting the previous speaker’s point, the new speaker demonstrates that they are not merely chomping at the bit to share their own input. It shows that they take the previous speaker’s message into consideration and synthesize it with their own opinions, beliefs, or experiences, surpassing speaking up.

(6) Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Readers may recognize this strategy, as it’s one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, Dr. Covey considers this habit to be the most important principle he has learned in interpersonal communication. After practicing in a group of four, the instructor can then combine two groups into a large group of eight. Obviously, a minimum of five minutes is needed for a larger conversation. One strategy we’ve talked well-nigh surpassing at TeachThought is the 3 Surpassing Me strategy, where the student must seek input from three other students surpassing asking for help from the teacher. We’re going to retread that strategy for zippy listening practice, and stipulate that any one participant in the group must wait until at least three variegated people have spoken until they make flipside contribution. This strategy can be expressly helpful surpassing engaging students in a larger group discussion, like a Socratic Seminar. Many times, those who are new to student-driven conversations are so concerned with getting a good grade on a discussion-based work that they just spout off whatever statements they prepared without supporting the previous point. This kind of policies often leads to a confusing, disjointed conversation, in which there is little synthesis of ideas. By implementing the revised 3 Surpassing Me strategy, the student is challenged to truly hear, absorb, and synthesize what the other group members are sharing surpassing making their own statement.

(7) Emphasize and refer when to the goal of the conversation

Speaking of disjointed conversations, it’s natural for students to veer off track in a larger group discussion. In these cases, the teacher (who is meant to serve as the facilitator) may finger compelled to pause or interrupt the conversation. Instead, we suggest using visual cues to remind students of the conversation purpose. One way of doing this is for the teacher to point to a verbal reminder displayed on the whiteboard. Ideally, the teacher can rencontre the students to monitor themselves. Perhaps they can come up with an unobtrusive hand signal–since they will be facing each other in a student-led dialogue, it makes increasingly sense for the students to remind each other without the teacher diverting sustentation yonder from the conversation. Of course, all of this is predicated on the notion that the instructor or group of students establish a purpose of conversation in the first place. The purpose can come in the form of a statement or an essential question, such as: “What can schools do to modernize the learning wits for students?” We speak from wits when we say that many students may want to share personal anecdotes regarding teachers they dislike, subjects they despise, or times when they felt a sense of injustice. In these cases, students run the risk of veering off-topic from the purpose of the conversation. It’s not that their experiences aren’t valid or relevant, but perhaps the students aren’t taking their contributions a step remoter by offering a solution for lamister the things well-nigh school that don’t work for them.

(8) Resist ‘sides’ and insist on both hair-trigger thinking and empathy

One way to generate substantial student dialogue is to ask relevant–hough possibly controversial–questions. These could be questions that relate to social, cultural, political, or economic ideas, such as: “How should we interpret the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution in the 21st Century?” or “Why are vaccine/mask mandates a good or bad idea?” or “What is considered ‘hate speech’ and to what extent should it be censored or not?” These are popular topics in today’s digital and physical society, and students may be eager to share their beliefs. On the flip side, students may moreover be increasingly resistant to opposing ideas. That stuff said, if we are intent on producing very solutions in the real world, we know that involves compromise and a merging of values. One idea to requite students practice in resisting sides is to rencontre them to take on the stance that opposes their personal beliefs. Teachers may be met with an onslaught of groans and protests, but they can then emphasize the purpose of the conversation (which, in this case, is to develop empathy and hair-trigger thinking skills). Naturally, students may need increasingly time to prepare for these conversations–to research opposing viewpoints, gather data, and seek segmented evidence. How does this all help with zippy listening? By having to research the opposing viewpoint, the students are substantially priming themselves to receive information that counters their own experiences.

(9) Consider diverse perspectives and experiences

Considering variegated perspectives is variegated from resisting sides. While resisting involves preventing a type of behavior, considering involves welcoming a type of behavior. Resisting sides involves staying tropical to neutrality while considering diverse perspectives involves considering everything that exists outside of neutrality. In 50 Everyday Formative Assessment Strategies, we detail an worriedness tabbed Ongoing Conversations, where students receive a piece of paper with a 2-column chart. In the left post are unbearable spaces for each student in the class; on the right side is an empty box large unbearable for a person to write 1-3 sentences. The teacher can ask a question or issue a prompt, and the students then have a given value of time to discuss the question or prompt with a new partner. They summarize their partners’ responses in the right post next to that partner’s name. The rencontre is for each student to talk to a trademark new person in matriculation surpassing talking to one person twice. This is a unconfined worriedness for classes where students tend to gravitate toward the same partners. It can moreover be useful as a ways of ‘breaking the ice’ surpassing a potentially intense conversation. Urgently listening to (and summarizing) one response at a time can prime the student for what they might hear in a larger group discussion. Considering all students have spoken to each other, and hopefully listened with intent, there is less pressure to insist on the validity of one’s own beliefs and increasingly focus on empathy and hair-trigger thinking.

(10) Keep an unshut mind

There are many similarities between our last two zippy listening strategies. Considering diverse perspectives is representative of open-mindedness. What we want to emphasize here is how the soul can ‘shut the mind off’ from receiving information that isn’t uniform with our well-established beliefs. With a young, impassioned group of students, it is likely that some may wilt upset, frustrated, sad, or plane wrung in a increasingly controversial conversation. When our sympathetic nervous systems are highly zingy (aka, we are ”triggered’), we may go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. This involves a biological reaction in which the soul prepares to go on the offensive, shut down, or run away. When we are on upper alert, we may not be receptive to listening with empathy. We may not prioritize the importance of hair-trigger thinking. Something that was said or communicated nonverbally signals to us that we are in danger or that we are stuff judged. It may be helpful for the instructor to lead a matriculation in mindful zoetic techniques if they know that a conversation has the potential to get intense. In How Can You Teach Mindfulness To Your Students? we offer ten tips for helping students to practice patience, transfer, and using their imagination to maintain equilibrium of the nervous system. Prior to engaging in a large group discussion, it may be useful to teach students how to recognize when their own nervous system energy is increasing, as well as when others are getting worked up. It’s not that we necessarily want to prevent these spikes in energy–being worldly-wise to recognize them and manage them can help us stay receptive. Not only are we learning how to urgently listen to others, but we can urgently listen to our own bodies.