Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Slice: When connections fail/ Learning to listen


I am not always a good listener.  And I know exactly why.

I am addicted to connections.  

When I hear something that "pings" a memory or a fact or an experience in my brain, the connection just jumps out of my mouth.

This propensity for making connections comes in handy as a teacher, a librarian, and as a parent helping a teenager with pre-calculus homework (who knew I could remember SOHCAHTOA?).  We all learn by building on what we know, so it's my job to connect new material with students' prior learning, connect their interests with books and materials, connect my teachers with resources, connect my teenager with time-tested acronyms.

The problem is that in conversation, it is not always polite or supportive to reply to a friend's or colleague's or child's recounting of their experience by bringing up one's own.  It's in those situations that my urge to make a connection can come across as self-centered and uncaring--I certainly don't want to perpetuate that image!

So I need to practice the same reference skills I use when I help a student in the stacks--asking questions instead of telling my own story.  Mea culpa.

12 comments:

  1. Oops- sounds familiar (could be me, could be any of my third graders). You perfectly captured an everyday struggle.

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    1. It's a work in progress for me, to be sure!

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  2. Yes! Me too! I love connections and must hold myself back during conversations. I realized that just yesterday during an inservice where I was clearly dragging out the meeting as I connected incessantly. I'm missed you and your thinking!

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    1. I've missed reading your posts, too! Glad to be back in this circle of writers and readers. And second-guessing every conversation I had today, ha!

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  3. I am SOOOOO terrible with this. I too am struggling to be JUST a listener!! Thanks for putting this out there-now I know there are more of us!

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    1. I think it's a teacher-thing, I really do. We are paid to make connections, after all!

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  4. Me too! You described this condition perfectly. Thank you!

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  5. It's the hardest thing to do, I think - to just be still and listen. But, with practice....

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    1. I'm trying, trying, trying....caught myself today, off on a tangent, but did better in another conversation.

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  6. This happens to me, too. I am a terrible listener and it takes very active concentration to not have my mind wander. It can be frustrating.

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    1. I am a helper by nature, so it's hard to keep my lips zipped! I'm finding that awareness does help, though; just writing this post has made me a better listener this week.

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