Listening is at the heart of what we do and I am delighted to share with you this guest blog, written by Jackie Edwards, freelance writer and former education worker. This is about the importance of listening – to both adults and children. Jackie discusses listening in the context of Circle Time and highlights the key attributes of good listening. Many thanks Jackie – and good luck with your work from Jenny Mosley.
How To Become A Better Circle Time Leader
We all know how important listening to others is, and make it a point to teach children and youth this vital life skill early on. But do we only praise listening in theory, or do we really practice it in our daily lives as adults, too? As parents, educators, teachers or facilitators, we must continuously work to improve our listening abilities in order to lead by example.
That is why when you accept the very important role of being a leader during child circle-time, it is all the more important to not only develop better listening skills, but to implement them for the entire duration of the activity. Why? Consider the fact that circle-times are meant to represent unity, community, respect, turn-taking, and working together towards a common vision. Your role as a leader is to provide the structure while encouraging these characteristics and goals.
So how can you be a better leader? It’s simple. By becoming a better listener.
As a leader you are representing the structure of the group, and in order to actively listen to all of the participants and conduct the circle-time effectively, you must remain focused and encourage others to do so as well. A good idea is to turn off all electronic devices to avoid trying to sneak a peek or be interrupted–and therefore lose concentration–by a “ping.” If you need the timer for the activity, you can simply set it and keep your phone away from the circle.
Hear What’s Not Being Said
A person’s body language, tone, and facial expressions can all speak volumes, so being a better leader means extending your listening skills to “hear” other forms of communication as well. Pay attention to the subtleties, like when a participant is constantly looking around, fidgeting in their seat, or avoiding making eye contact. All of these actions can signify shyness, discomfort, or a lack of confidence, and as a leader you need to make sure every person feels welcome and comfortable enough to participate.
In any group setting, misunderstandings and even arguments are bound to occur. While circle-time encourages a sense of unity and community, as a leader, it is absolutely crucial to put your active listening skills into practice since they will help troubleshoot any issues to successfully problem solve. As you are in a neutral role, focusing and listening to different children speak, you will be able to provide unbiased suggestions and summaries, and clarify misunderstandings between two or more children, leading to a circle-time that remains true to its mission.
Good listening skills are important and applicable in every situation in life. When leading a group of people, those skills become all the more important. When you make the choice to become a better listener, you will see the world of difference it makes in your ability to facilitate a circle-time and keep it both effective and harmonious.
Jackie Edwards, freelance writer and former education worker
Website Manager’s Notes
- Jenny Mosley is available for INSET training days, Working In School Days and for longer projects involving several schools for schools training like the Peterborough Model Above.
- If you are interested in booking just a day of training, Jenny runs open training conferences around the country throughout the year. Jenny also excels as an educational presenter at schools conferences, LA conferences and Headteacher conferences.
- The areas of Jenny’s expertise include training for positive behaviour for learning, training for midday supervisors and lunchtime supervisors to promote calm dining halls and healthy, active playgrounds, also training for promoting social and communication skills for learning and training for mental health and wellbeing.
- Jenny’s resources support all her areas of training and are available form her webshop.
- To contact us please phone 01225 767157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing form you.
- Do see Jenny’s Calm Dining Halls articles in Headteacher Update and the TES.