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Power of Listening, A Teacher’s Best Tool

Karl A. Menniger had so rightly put in, ‘Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.’ While imparting education in a classroom setting, a teacher should exercise the art of listening.

Learners today are born with an extra layer of inquisitive attitude owing to smart phones and access to internet.

They have myriad thoughts and questions storming their minds, waiting to be satiated by the most befitting response. Given this situation, the challenges that a teacher’s path is beset by are quite interesting. Gone are the days when the teachers should enter the classroom to simply speak, it’s very important to understand the importance of power of listening.

Imparting quality education should not be a one-way process

A teacher in the present-day classroom is an important facilitator. The actual resources necessary to plan a lesson are the audience right in front of us – the learners.

Let the learners speak their heart out as there are so many benefits of doing so-

  • This enables and empowers the teacher to know how to custom- make and tailor the lesson to suit the needs of the present learners.
  • It does away with any scope for monotony and repetition of the strategies or approaches that might have worked with a different set of learners in a different environment, because not all learners are the same.

Listen to what your students are NOT saying

With changing times, today it is common to have both parents that are working professionals. Parents want to provide the best for their children and the demands of their career may not allow them to spend as much time with the latter, as perhaps was the norm a few decades ago. Thus, the role of a teacher has gained significant prominence in a child’s life in terms of guidance, support and many a time just lending an ear, hence the importance of power of listening.

Listen to what your students are SAYING

Power of listening, a teacher's best tool

Learners today are highly sensitive and crave every bit of your attention and they want a patient listener to anything that they have to say. It won’t be wrong to state that students today are more abreast of technology, development and innovative ideas than most of us are.

Many of the lessons in class can be shaped and designed taking a cue from discussion with your students.

Moreover, when learners are monitored and encouraged to share their ideas as a group or as individuals, a lot of peer learning, peer review and peer assessment takes place. This not only leads to effective classroom discipline and conduct, but also ensures holistic development of each learner.

Simultaneously, values like empathy, compassion, mindfulness, mutual understanding and respect and global mindedness are inculcated amongst the learners. Having said that, it should not be a mundane and routine affair either.

An efficient facilitator and teacher would know how to wield several activities that would involve equal participation from all learners where they get the opportunity to think, act, pair, share, analyze, review and evaluate their work and come up with strategies to better them too.

A teacher should simply initiate the topic of discussion and then take a backseat to let the learners start thinking for themselves.

Stretch and Challenge Activity

I had taken up an activity with my IGCSE FLE (0500) Grade 10 learners, a couple of months ago. I had shown my learners a video clip of an advertisement that advocated the idea of standing by tough moms.
After that, I simply instructed my learners to focus on the structure and style in Question 1 (Directed Writing in Paper 2). I also told them that each learner had to choose a text type in which they would want to transform their assignment. This was a case of ‘Stretch and Challenge’ where the learners had to frame the questions, rather than answering them first.

With a couple of more significant guidelines, I had before me about 15 different questions prepared as per the exam style chosen by the learners. The joy and happiness on their faces after they had finished this activity was unmatched.

Similarly, while teaching English Literature, I teach learners how to empathize by doing a role-play, hot seating, miming and so forth. This enables them to be independent outside the school premises.

After all, the sole objective of education is to raise a generation of life-long learners who will be capable to tread the path ahead without being dependent on the teacher.

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Abhinandan Bhattacharya was one of the 6 finalists of our Dedicated Teacher Awards. Out of 4,000 nominations from 140 countries, 50 entries were shortlisted and 6 finalists were chosen.

Read other informative articles on Teachers of Tomorrow to make your classroom more interesting.

What did you think about this article? Share it with us in the comments section.

Encouraging Educator

Written by Abhinandan Bhattacharya

Am currently a CAIE and IBDP English Facilitator at JBCN International School Oshiwara, Mumbai. I believe in the philosophy of 'happy life-long learning'. To provide my students with the latest techniques in learning, I ensure to keep myself updated from time to time with the latest methodologies and teaching strategies. I have this conviction that English is a 'language' and not a 'subject'. With this thought in mind, I embark on the mission to disseminate and share information and ideas. I also encourage a lot of 'peer-learning' and 'peer-editing' in my classroom setting.

104 Comments

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    • Thank you for your feedback Ms. Sharda. Yes, knowing and understanding the needs of the present day learners is of utmost importance. This not only strengthens the bond between the teacher and the learner but also promotes for a holistic development in the process.

  1. Indeed, as a parent I feel the guilt within me for lending limited time to my child. This takes away the sharing of ideas and emotions that are filled in the kids, of today’s generation. Here the teacher plays a significant role and hence no technology can replace a teacher ever.
    A well written article Mr. Abhinandan, you have always come up with thought provoking articles, that are worth reading.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Ms. Sangita. We learn from one another and it’s just a beautiful process of enriching and empowering people throughout.

  2. Very true. In today’s curriculum driven teaching scenarios teachers want to be heard quickly so as to complete teaching the scheduled content for assessment. In this chase the student ends up being a doer of activities with little opportunity to off-load that which is within.
    Notwithstanding this, and listening to learners is sure to help build bonds that would be conducive for learning and shaping caring attitudes.

    • Thank you so much for your constant motivation and encouragement, Ms. Anupma. There’s so much to learn from a treasure chest like you. Looking forward to always learning from your expertise and experience.

  3. Well written Sir. You made a strong point by stressing on how the power of listening helps turn around the curriculum planning.

  4. Very thoughtful…. Great n effective techniques…. I agree with the techniques that make learners inclusive in the topics with more interest…….. And the impact on learners of it and the fecund outcomes too…

    • Thank you for your acknowledgement, Ms. Jigna. Yes, with newer strategies and techniques we ought to cater to the diverse learning and acceptability patterns of today’s learners. This is also quite effective in dealing with differentiated learning.

  5. To develop the art of listening is a tough job for a teacher due to the burst of information awaiting to be shared.Nevertheless I agree that it is important to listen especially to a generation of today from whose curiosity we can learn and explore about myriad ideas we didn’t even imagine of !
    Your activity was intellectually stimulating and the idea of role reversal does stretch the challenge.Superb read.

    • Thank you for your valuable comments,Ms.Zehra. I am glad you appreciated it. Lots to learn from your expertise and experience as well.

    • Thank you dear Rishabh. You are probably the first learner/student of mine to comment on my article. When my students can connect with what I write and express their understanding on the same, that really marks as a great motivation. Thank you for being such a wonderful student of mine and teaching so many things in return. Stay blessed.

  6. Abhinandan your understanding about the current education system & the role of a facilitators to impart life long learning is worth appreciation.
    You have nailed the core skill of learning; the POWER of LISTENING.
    Keep writing & igniting the love for learning.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Ms. Seema. Your motivation and dynamic spirit is something that I always look up to. You are doing a great job in the field of education as well. Keep inspiring us so that we may keep writing thus.

  7. Definitely sir, the art of listening is indeed is the most effective tool to understand our students. All teachers love to talk.

  8. Absolutely true,Mr.Abhinandan! We sometimes tend to forget the importance of listening and allowing learners to think on their own.Thank you for reminding us our role!Inadvertently,we drift away at times. Thanks for sharing !

    • Thank you so much Manoj Sir for your appreciation. There’s so much to learn from you. Looking forward to collaborating with you soon and enriching myself in great measure.

  9. So true Sir . By practising this art of listening in their classes teachers would be indirectly influencing the students to become attentive and active listeners rather than passive critics . Thereby we will have a group of mature individuals who would know how to respect others opinion.

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Ms. Amberin. It is the need of the hour to create a generation of mature and mindful individuals especially in a scenario when everybody simply listens to reply and not register and understand the perspective of the speaker. Really appreciate your sweet gesture to find time out and share your feedback. Your expertise and experience is something that is worth learning from. Absolute respect for you.

  10. Listening is the most underrated skill despite being the most crucial. A good listener is a good learner.
    Educators, who are lifelong learners, are always good listeners.
    Keep on listening and encourage others to do so!

    • Thank you, Ms.Naghma for being there always as a strong support system. I sincerely wish I were a student in your class and get to cherish the moments of profound learning that you impart. Always grateful to you for shaping my efforts and thoughts and whatever little contribution I have made in the field of education so far. I have miles to go and with your blessings I am sure to achieve them all.

  11. Interesting perspective in the art of Facilitation. Undoubtedly, Active Listening is a key component in learning per se…
    In Classroom, real time scenarios , it’s pertinent and highly effective. Thanks for sharing.
    Brainstorming sessions, prior to reading and
    Written tasks, work equally well with any set of learners, both for IGCSE & IBDP learners.

    • Thank you,Ms.Latika for sharing your feedback. It is really encouraging. Looking forward to learning so many things from you.

  12. Very well expressed. Listening is one of the key aspects in learning and it has been brought out really well in your write up.

  13. I liked some of the strategies that you have mentioned. As you suggest, the key is to open up the possibilities and then step aside while students different facets. Also, if we focus on texts that are relevant for them, then we will get interesting perspectives.

    • Thank you so much, Ms.Nandita for your valuable feedback and appreciation. Yes, you are right. We are mere facilitators in the classroom. The actual job has to be done by the learners and engaging them as active players definitely helps the teacher in scoring great grounds. And certainly, gaining interesting perspectives and learning how to respect each other’s opinions should be the key here. Your expertise and experience has got a lot to teach me too besides your learners in your class.

  14. Very aptly written. You have managed to point out the one major deterrent in today’s communication world- listening. It is imperative that we all lend our ears as much as we lend out voice, mostly when we are dealing with children ( learners ). As educators, our responsibility doubles up, as this makes the two way communication very easy and fruitful.
    A great-up, extremely thought provoking and a lesson to listen .

    • Thank you, Ms.Dilnaz for your motivation and encouragement. You are right. We must inculcate the habit of giving a patient hearing without being restless and without colouring our thoughts with any preconceived notion. Else all the listening will merely fall flat on deaf ears and nothing can be put to practice.

  15. Really an interesting read, Sir. Listening is an art and as it’s rightly told – a teacher must know how to listen in order to make his class talk…
    Loved the flipped teaching method.

  16. Very aptly written. You have managed to point out the one major deterrent in today’s communication world- listening. It is imperative that we all lend our ears as much as we lend our voice, mostly when we are dealing with children ( learners ). As educators, our responsibility doubles up, as this makes the two way communication very easy and fruitful.
    A great-up, extremely thought provoking and a lesson to listen .

  17. A well-researched article, Mr Bhattacharya. Completely agree! The key component of any successful teaching and learning experience lies in the ability to listen which further hones them to be better communicators!

    • Thank you, Mr. Akash for your encouraging words. Yes, you are right. Learners learn so many things by just listening to stuff around them. Tweaking the regular teaching practices to suit the needs of the modern day learners is an important requirement.

  18. Congratulations and very well written. Listening without interruption is one of the very important things in life which very few people adhere to. Times have changed. Roles have reversed. Yet, the two way of Communicating System is a must – We all must listen patiently and choose our words carefully to n our speech when we are dealing with children at home or in school. Home is considered the first school.
    Keep writing and guiding us – The Educators of Time.

    • Thank you so much, Prof.Ayaz for your kind words and motivation. Yes, times have changed a lot and to mould ourselves keeping with the multiple demands of the pedagogical process is indeed a challenge but not an impossibility. Meticulous understanding and mindfulness of the system will surely stand each one of us in good stead.

  19. Dear Abhinandan Sir, It is a very thoughtful article.Indeed if we educators lend a listening ear to the pupils,they will definitely enable us to understand them & eventually we can customize our teaching to suit their learning style.The emotional,psychological & cognitive set up of a student can be understood better only through listening.

  20. AnAn eye opener. Well sculpted article. So much to learn. All aspects beautifully covered. Thanks for being Ankit’s teacher. When it comes to ENGLISH, Ankit is all praise for you. You are THE BEST. Looking forward to such more inspirin articles. eye opener. Well sculpted article. So much to learn. All aspects beautifully covered. Thanks for being Ankit’s teacher. When it comes to ENGLISH, Ankit is all praise for you. You are THE BEST. Looking forward to such more inspirin articles.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Yes, being associated with such intelligent and smart students has paved the way to my learning as well. Indeed, blessed and humbled.

  21. Excellent initiative Abhinandan. Our education system forces a child to have guided thinking. Instead of allowing the expressions to flow, we direct and ensure the guidelines are followed. The inherent aptitude is getting lost and we have supposed robots who do as directed and climb the ladder of a fake success as deep within there is dissatisfaction.
    Allowing a role reversal is a great initiative as it allows the student to understand and respect the process with a greater enthusiasm and point of view. It also infuses the sense of responsibility and pride in a subtle manner.

    I am reminded of my my grade 10 mathematics teacher at school Late Balani sir. We had finished practicing almost everything by January. So he asked us to frame a paper as per the board paper for all to solve. I remember the feel we all had and the perspective we got. And not to forget… We all had amazing scores .

    Somewhere we all get into the same track. Kudos to you for taking the path forgotten by many.
    Let us not only impart the subject knowledge from exam perspective and commit to exploring the concept and holistic development in true sense.

    • Thank you so much, Ms. Nidhi for the enlightening words. I am glad my article reminded you of your teacher and we get the privilege to know about your childhood experience as well. This is the magic of collaboration, I think. You have been an inspiration to countless people and you may count me among one of those inspired fellow men.

      • All the best Mr Abhinandan and thanks for the kind words. We definitely imbibe positivity from all great people around us. Looking forward to doing something as a team.

  22. Congratulations on choosing a topic that’s the need of the hour for this transition phase of the teaching learning world where teachers are trying their level best to understand and adapt their roles to that of a facilitator…very thoughtfully perceived and skillfully shared!

    • Thank you, Ms. Seema. It means a lot coming from an experienced teacher like you. Right from Jeddah to India, you have empowered so many learners. Looking forward to learning so many things from you.

  23. Thank you for Listening to us, you always had this in practice. This perception you have towards learning is of real significance and this is what the education system needs today.

    • Thank you dear Aashish for acknowledging all the efforts. You have always been an adorable student with spot-on wit and humour laced with subtle intelligence. Thank you for teaching me so many things in return. I am humbled to be acknowledged by my students.

  24. I completely agree with the viewpoints put forth in the article.As teachers , we need to adapt to the changing times and thus the changing needs of the learners. At the end , teachers are life long learners too ,infusing passion for lifelong learning in their learners!

    • Thank you dear Ahmed. I am so happy and proud to see you progressing. I clearly remember how you would come up with enthusiastic ideas to share with the class while doing AS Level English Language. While listening to you, I realised so many new things and that has really helped me in forming new perspectives.

  25. A well turned piece, Sir. Undoubtedly, lending our attentive ears to our students would bring in a visible change in their learning. Moreover, after reading this article I myself end up learning an “Engaging Strategy”..:)
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Ms. Neha for your kind words. Do share how this strategy worked with your learners in class.

  26. Agree with all the points Mr Abhinandan. Indeed learners today are more prone to express their ideas and opinions. Effective listening plays a major role in designing individualised lesson plans making room for differentiation. Many of the strategies as mentioned by you make a real impact in the classrooms. Indeed we are more involved in our students’ lives today that their mental health, personality development , skills and talents are as much our areas of focus than their families as was the norm a few decades before. Best wishes!

    • Thank you so much, Ms. Issani for those wonderful words of acknowledgement and motivation. You are absolutely right. With changing times it is necessary to evolve keeping in mind the ideals of being ‘mindful’, ’empathetic’ and ‘proactive’.

  27. It is very important to teach the students about compassion, empathy, mutual understanding and respect. You have rightly pointed out at these aspects and it makes me relate so much to this article.
    Keep motivating and guiding us through more such pieces!

    • Thank you, Ms. Neha Kharbanda for your kind words. Yes, will keep writing and keep making a positive difference to the field of education. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

  28. Well written, Mr Abhinandan. Listening to our students and understanding things from their perspective is the need of the hour.

  29. Very aptly said. Teachers more than ever have to listen to their learners as that can change perhaps the whole concept leave alone the strategy to teach! Learners can come up with their ideas and views which can change the we look at this world and and pave the path for greater and better theories. Wush you the best and your learners are sure lucky to have a teacher as you.

    • Thank you,Ms. Sunita for your words of encouragement. You are right in mentioning that learners are replete with a host of ideas and by listening to each one them we can identify and work on the multiple strategies to tailor them to suit their individual needs. Thanks for being such a strong support system. Much appreciated.

  30. It’s a well written article. We as students ,like the kind of activities teachers conduct. This activities do help us to enhance our vocabulary and our writings skills.

  31. It’s very well written article. We as students like when teachers conduct such activities. This makes the task more interesting , hence even we take an initiate to participate and learn more. You have taken all the points into the consideration how students want their teachers to be. The more the teacher listens the greater the bond students make and express themselves easily.
    A very good piece of work.

    • Thank you dear Sarth for your kind words. Enriching and empowering my learners to imbibe similar skills of thoughts and writing and of expression is something I am aiming for.

  32. Honestly sir, this arcticle is amazing and is brilliantly written. And this is probably why your classes are always so much fun!

    • Thank you dear Ananya for that encouragement. Students maketh teachers! It’s because of you learners that we are what we are.

  33. Excellent english.i wish i was gifted with this type of vocabulary.i am out of words.once again greatly summerized.

  34. Beautifully written sir, covering and summarising all the points of importance. Your writing inspires and teaches us a lot.

  35. Well written Sir. You made a strong point by stressing on how the power of listening helps turn around the curriculum planning. Good use of vocabulary

  36. Extraordinary understanding and depth in this piece, more and more teachers should align to this process of imparting knowledge. Extremely well structured too. Thank you sir

    • Thank you dear Anhad for your kind words. It feels really great to receive such acknowledgement and appreciation from learners like you.

  37. Abhi Sir….this article is in perfect sync with modern pedagogy…brilliantly worded and definitely to be implemented in our classrooms.Besides this – I would like to emphasise that each and every child should be encouraged to participate in class discussions. Some reticent students need a gentle but firm impetus for their verbal contribution.
    Keep it up Abhi Sir…Proud of you

    • Totally agree with what you have stated, Ms. Vimmi. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. You have rightly pointed out the aspect of inclusive learning wherein equal participation from all the learners should be the key.

    • Peer Learning is a very popular and widely employed strategy to enable the learners in our classroom to actively participate in every discussion and take back the maximum learning outcome. For example, if I consider Composition Writing in English Language, then after the students have written their piece ask them to interchange their work and mark and assess each other’s piece instead of you, as a teacher sitting with the pile of correction. You can display the Mark Scheme or rubrics for the assessment according to which the learners will mark for error and rectify the mistakes by highlighting the same and evaluate their friend’s work donning the cap of a teacher. This is something that all learners at a certain stage love to do.

      This, however, should not be made a routine affair as the basic correction work will and must be regularly done by the teacher. As they say, ‘teaching is the best way of learning’, so by being teachers to their friends, they will learn amazingly in the process. When they mark and correct each other’s work that becomes ‘peer editing’.

  38. I agree totally with you Sir! We need to encourage our students to get out of their comfort zones and voice their opinion, share their thoughts, learn to agree to disagree, so that the whole class is involved in the activity, rather than a few smart alecs controlling the discussion. keep up the good work !

    • Thank you so much, Ms.Savita for your encouraging words. Yes, giving a voice and empowering them to realise how to use the voice effectively in the right context and in good faith should be one of the key mantras in today’s classroom practices.

  39. A teacher is called a ‘Guru’ in India and the responsibility that this one word puts on an individual is immense. Influencing the thoughts of the future generations is a task like none other and if we only had more teachers who think as well as know their children like you do, it would be easy to visualise a better tommorw …..

  40. An excellent review of the role teachers need to play to be effective as facilitators, mentors, guides. The idea that a teacher must listen to the learner, listen particularly to what the learner ‘doesn’t say’, is not a new one, but it has been put across with such clarity and simplicity that it goes straight to the heart! It reveals a mind, at once sensitive and empathetic as well as a vision, liberal and mature.

  41. Sir I would like to thank you for putting this point forth. As many of the learners do not have the courage to notify the teacher that they also need special attention, recognition and involvement in the class. Thank you for putting this point forth to many of the teachers globally.

  42. It is really refreshing to see that there are teachers like you who think so and understand the importance of hearing out what the learners have to say. I really admire how you imparted that sometimes teachers need to listen to what learners are not comfortable sharing with others. It really helps create a bond and I do appreciate someone understanding this.

  43. It’s an insightful teacher’s observation and strategic planning. An interesting class always engages learner’s. A teacher’s preparation and understanding of the learners’ requirements achieves the outcome beautifully.

    A creatively thought out article, Abhinandan.

  44. It’s an insightful teacher’s observation and strategic planning. An interesting class always engages learner’s. A teacher’s preparation and understanding of the learners’ requirements achieves the outcome beautifully.

    A creatively thought and penned article, Abhinandan.

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