This morning, our staff meeting was filled with sharing of instructional strategies that work for the variety of learners we have in our building. Different teachers stood up to share global ideas, literacy, language, technology and the list goes on and on. A theme I quickly picked up on was something that was displayed as well on the front cover of my latest edition of Education Leadership, Speaking and Listening.

In the strategies we shared and in the newest edition, it is rediscovering the importance of these two communication tools essential in our students’ learning in our current curriculum. Our students are challenged to not only be able to read and write but also communicate through listening and speaking. At Joyner, we often celebrate the loudness of our classrooms. We do this not because we encourage misbehavior, we do this because we love to see learning in an active environment. Students are encouraged to think and speak out. And we teach them how to listen to each other as well.

Some of the strategies we discussed this morning to encourage those two other communication skills are as follows. Did you realize how important it is to teach our children to communicate verbally through complete sentences? Encouraging our students to share ideas in complete thoughts helps them when they have to write it down. We also want our children to listen with intent. When there is a discussion, students shouldn’t be thinking of what they will add but what is being shared. From being stronger listeners, they will then be able to offer to the conversation a deeper thought connected to the last. Communication and conversation! For our students are acquiring a new language, providing these strategies offers them support in how the English language is structured. They have a scaffold from their peers in how to communicate back. For our students who often have the answer before the question is even asked will be encouraged to listen and respond from what they heard. We hope to see these learners begin to build on from each other and create new ideas from those conversations even perhaps seeing the value and power of collaboration.

Many other ideas were shared. We discussed relationship building with the two by ten strategy, two minutes a day for ten days… the power of connection. We talked about the components of literacy and how they are woven together in a fabric that allows our children to truly engage in literacy. We learned new ideas and strategies to create a global lens in the many lessons that we plan each day. Our teacher leaders shared technology tools to help us get there. We learned from each other.

At the end of our meeting, I reminded the staff of how amazing we are as a family of learners and teachers. I encouraged each to take those extra moments to practice the art of listening and speaking with each other. We can all get so busy, it is important to be reminded to connect. So I encourage our families to do the same at home. Practice the art of listening and speaking at the dinner table or in the car or at bed time. Listen to the words that your child shares, learn to ask questions and articulate what you wonder. Allow them to listen to you. Share your thoughts and ideas. You will be so surprised at how the power of your conversations together will strengthen your child as a learner as well as strengthen the connections you have with each other.