Classroom Management Strategies: Whole Body Listening
I have come to the conclusion that it is not enough for us as teachers to simply tell our students to listen. I have yet to have a student to come to school and actually know how to listen on the first day. Most of them have never been told what it means to listen, they have never been shown how to listen and they have never learned that you need more than ears to truly hear someone. This is why one of the first things I do with my class is teach them to Whole Body Listen. It is a skill they will need to learn to accomplish all other tasks in the classroom so it comes first. So what is Whole Body Listening? It is exactly what it sounds like—listening not only with your ears, but your eyes are looking at the speaker, your mouth is quiet, your body is facing the speaker, your hands are still, your feet are still, your brain is thinking about what the speaker is saying and your heart is caring about what the speaker is saying.
I point to each body part and explain how it listens. I have posters posted in my classroom to show what Whole Body Listening looks like and I read the book Whole Body Listening Larry At School. The book gives examples of why each component of Whole Body Listening is important. When I see a student during circle time that is Whole Body Listening I point it out to the class and praise them for their listening skills—this usually makes students who aren’t listening with their whole bodies take note and begin to listen correctly. I love whole body listening and it is less restrictive than “criss cross applesauce hands in your lap” because as long as feet and hands are still and bodies are facing the speaker students can sit however they are comfortable.
Have you used Whole Body Listening in your classroom? If not how do you teach listening?