Lessons for the classroom from a newborn

Hard to believe that 4 weeks have already passed since my little Jack was born.

My life has definitely changed and I know it’s only going to continue to do so. One thing that I am learning from this little guy is the importance of listening. He tells me what he needs through the cries he makes. He has no other way of letting me know he needs attention, whether it’s to be fed, changed, amused, or held close.

The children we work with who make a lot of ‘noise’ in our classrooms are telling us that they need attention. That they need us. They’re doing what they need to do, all that’s left is for us to listen and to provide.


  • I agree. My troubling students are telling me what they need. The challenge is to determine just what that need is. One of my most “noisy” students was quite happy when I let him be front and centre by having him put answers up on the board and having him operate the video cam. He got the attention he wanted in a positive way without interfering with my teaching or my students’ learning.

    • Tracy Rosen says:

      @Elona Hartjes, nice to see you Elona! I agree with you when you write, ‘the challenge is to determine just what that need is.’ I think the more we spend time listening, the more adept we become at determining those needs. What do you think?

  • I have been completely compelled by the practice of simply watching and listening to kids this year and reflecting on what I can learn from them. I honestly believe that it is this, more than anything else, that will help us design meaningful learning experiences for them and intervene in ways that make a difference. Sometimes, I think we all “know” too much. It gets in the way of really learning what we need to. I love the analogy you create here, Tracy. I love how you are always reflecting on what your experiences are teaching you.

    • Tracy says:

      @Angela Stockman, Hi Angela – managed to save this from the spam filter this morning! I’m wondering, how do you reflect on what you’re listening to? Do you keep a journal, have conversations with colleagues, write about it on your blog?

      The idea of listening in order to create meaningful learning experiences reminds me of a ‘rule’ we had when I was working towards my MA in Human Systems Intervention:

      Seek to understand before being understood

      A learning experience is meaningful only in as much as it meets the needs of the learner. I can’t assume to know learners’ specific needs until I hear their voices tell me what those needs are.

      It can take time to decode their needs because a 9 year old (or a 5 year old, or a teen, or an adult for that matter) is not necessarily going to tell me hid specific needs but the more I listen the more I can hear.

      • @Tracy,
        I used to keep a journal, but I often find that this is unrealistic, given the amount of time I have to write and the number of people I’m working with. Over the last few years, I’ve been playing around with observation, active listening, and annotation. I find that establishing meaningful learning targets helps me hone in on something meaningful to pay attention to, so I’m listening with purpose. Thinking a bit about what success might look like or sound like ahead of time is helpful too. Sometimes, it makes sense to take experiences in as a whole and reflect on what is most compelling, but often, I find that I need targets and some ideas about what it means to hit them in order to reflect in ways that might lead to better teaching. Does that seem uptight?? I often wonder……I’m a bit type A ; ))

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