How Are We Listening?

Certain quotes or phrases can become a talisman for our work, such as “Listening is the premise of every learning relationship” – Carlina Rinaldi (2006). I was reminded of this phrase again a few days ago, when a colleague shared with me that she didn’t have much time for the important work that was happening in her classroom because of other pressing concerns on her time, such a completing charts and paperwork, recording standards based learning assessments and documenting in online tools. She shared that she felt so discouraged. When I asked her how others felt, she shared that everyone in her program felt that way but there didn’t seem to be a way to change what was happening.

Her story made me reflect on how we are engaging in the classroom, if we are not really listening. Have our relationships with each other and the children become an exchange of facts and figures? Have we moved that far from authentically hearing what is happening for sustained periods of time?

In thinking about how we get back to the authentic classroom experience, I think about how we bring back sustained, natural engagement were we are in the middle of “being with children.” Taking time to be in the classroom, experiencing the timelessness of being fully engaged without mental “to do” list running through our brain. We have become fearful of failure in the early childhood classroom. We are held captive by accountability.

It is time to take back the sacred space of early childhood to move away from redundant, surface level, irrelevant tasks that keep us from authentically and deeply engaging with children. It is time to get back to naturally inquiry – lead by the children’s interest and ideas, and learning over time based on the layering of ideas that only reach maturity when we look back and see what has emerged.

What competes with your desire to “listen to children”?