Listening? Who? Me?

Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on May 11, 2012

   I know this may surprise you, but sometimes…my students don’t listen.  I have a few perfect examples to share with you that come from today…only today. 

   First, this morning, we were continuing our study of maps and geography concepts.  One of our activities involved creating a rough draft of a map key for lots of different things that may be in an area.  One of those terms was “lagoon”.  Now, the “reading a map key” activity we had just finished hadn’t used “lagoon”, so it made sense to turn that into a teachable moment.  Using a large poster of landforms and bodies of water, I went up and pointed out the lagoon.  We talked about how it was a small pond of water surrounded by sand dunes or some grassy area and generally connected to a larger body of water.  We even suggested a couple possible pictures for their map key.  Then, the students went back to work. 

   Then, all of a sudden, one of my boys said, “Miss P, what’s a lagoon?  It’s not on that other thing.”  My first thought was…”What?”  My second thought was  “consider it all joy”.  So, I went with that thought and with laughter walked him up to the poster to show him the lagoon and told him what it was.  To which another boy said, “She just told us that.  Weren’t you listening?” (Um, I’d vote no.)

   Back to work they went, and we came to the word “oasis”.  This too led to a teachable moment.  We talked about it being an area in the desert where there is water and plant growth.  To which a student said, “But it’s not real, right?”  This led to a discussion about the difference between a mirage and an oasis.  The discussion was great.  The “Ah-Ha” moment was excellent.  The illustration of it being a “little bit of heaven” when you’re in the hot dry desert was remarkable.  So, they refocused on their map key. 

   As I roamed the room monitoring their work, one boy said, “I’m done, Miss P!” He was quite proud of himself.  As I looked, I noticed one symbol was missing.  Can you guess which one?  Yep, OASIS!  I asked, and he responded, “I don’t know what that is.”  The same boy from before said, “She just talked to us about it.”  So, again, I chose joy over frustration and pointed out the oasis and we even suggested some possible symbols.

   OK, E-friends, we’ve only made it to 9:30, and I’ve had two illustrations. 

   So, we begin language arts class, which was shortened due to ISTEP+ and Recess for Life.  As we were earnestly working to finish all that needed to get finished, (spelling test, skill assessment, Mother’s Day writing, weekly vocabulary) I said that we probably would have to move our book talks to Monday and have a “Book Talk Marathon”.  Then, a half-hour later a girl came up (Shwooo, I was beginning to think it was just a ‘boy thing’.) and said, “Do I get to do my Book Talk today?”  To which, I said, “Probably not, you’ll do it Monday.”

   Sometimes, as a teacher, I think it would be handy to record things and have a “replay” button, so I don’t have to repeat myself.  Some days, I tell my students that after I repeat myself once they’ll need to find out elsewhere from someone who was practicing their active listening.  Some incidents, I must confess, cause me to fall into frustration and aggravation rather than joy. 

   Let’s face it, third graders aren’t the only people who need to work on listening skills.  I know there are several times when I’ll be talking to my nephew Connor, and he even makes the “I’m listening” sounds.  Then, as soon as I finish asking him something or giving him a direction, he’ll say, “What did you say?” 

   I’m betting that whether you’re a parent, teacher, or simply a human…you’ve experienced the same thing with children (or adults) not listening to you.  I’m guessing you could think of an example or two right now, if I was there to ask you.

   However, I can’t point fingers, because after all…when I point, three of my fingers are pointing back at me.  I know there are times when I’m “listening” to someone talk and not “hearing” a thing they say.  I know there are times I get so easily distracted that I will alter my position.  For instance, in worship on Sundays, I am not a “back row Baptist”.  My goodness, if I sat in the back row, I wouldn’t hear a thing.  I’d see people getting in their purses, rubbing their spouse’s back, talking to a child, moving their bodies, leaving to go to the restroom…Get it?  I generally sit near the front.  Close enough to focus, but not so close that I have to bend my head back to make eye contact with the pastor.  Then, I take notes in an effort to stay focused.  Does it always work?  Nope.  There are times I have to lean over and quietly ask my neighbor, “What was the third point?”

Listening…hearing…learning…doing.  They all go together don’t they.

   If we don’t listen, we won’t hear what is being said.  If we don’t hear what is being said, then we can’t learn the lesson or gain the knowledge.  If we don’t learn, then how can we apply it and put the lesson into practice? Yes, listening is important.  It’s important in life…in relationships…in our walk with the Lord.

   You know, it seems a lot of times, my prayer life seems more like a monologue than a conversation.  I mean, sometimes it’s difficult when you don’t have a person talking aloud to you.  Let’s face it, if I occassionally struggle listening to someone who’s speaking to me, how much more challenging is it to listen to the One who speaks through His word and to my heart rather than an audible voice.  But, that doesn’t give me an “out” to not try. 

   This leads me back to two blogs I wrote several weeks ago.  They were called “There’s An App for That” and “This, That, or the Other?”  They were from a Spiritual Disciplines conference I attended and shared about praying through Scripture and meditating on His Word.  I’ve found that using those two strategies also helps to turn my monologue into a conversation.  My words are obviously me talking to Him, but when I read the Psalm or meditate on it, He is talking to me. 

Give it a try.  Learn to listen.  The Lord of lords is most definitely worth the effort.


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