Listening Exchange: Good and Poor Listening

Being listened to helps human beings in profound ways. This video and set of guidelines will give you and your students a chance to practice active listening through an "equal listening exchange."

Being listened to helps human beings in profound ways. When we absorb someone else’s relaxed attention, we can process and regulate our emotions, think our way through challenges, and engage in areas where we are inclined to disengage. Equal listening exchanges are a tool and a process that will support students to take risks as learners, build community, and nurture everyone's ability to handle challenging emotions when they arise.

Active listening is a skill that takes practice. Specific protocols will help students learn to use it well and sustained use in various settings will teach students how to move forward when they are confronted with academic, social, and emotional challenges. This is the first of a series of videos to get you started.

The listening exchange below can be used on its own or along with Games to Nourish Community. For more on how to combine the two, check out Mini Lessons to Nourish Community.  

Lesson 1: Good and Poor Listening

Invite students to think about how they feel when someone really listens. Then create a chart together, with a list of “What we say and do when we are listening well.”  Remind students to do these things when it is their turn to listen. Regular review and conversation will make these practices automatic.

Next, watch the video below with students. In it, Morningside Center staff developer Tresa Elguera will guide you and your students in the "Listening Exchange" process. After watching it, use the process below to engage your class in a listening exchange.



Protocol for Listening Exchanges:

  • Pick how long the exchange will be. You may want to start with 1.5 minutes or 2 minutes per person.  
  • Decide who will be the speaker and who will be the listener.
  • The listener shows interest and care- paying undivided attention to the speaker for the allotted time.
  • Even if the speaker seems to run out of things to say, keep paying attention! Holding the space for one another allows our brains to keep thinking and new thoughts may arise. 
  • When the time is up, the person speaking finishes their sentence and switches their attention to the next person. It may be helpful for the teacher to keep time and send notes through break-out rooms if this is happening virtually.

Possible topic: When was a time that it was hard for you to listen?