#Nerdlution Comments

Listen More Than You Talk

“One thing is certain about the role of a school leader – it is people intensive!” (in Coaching Conversations: Transforming Your School Culture One Conversation at a Time, by Linda Gross Cheliotes and Marceta A. Reilly). Not only that, but every day as a principal or vice principal is filled with all kinds of conversations with all groups, including students, parents, staff, colleagues, supervisors and community members. The authors see these as opportunities for  trust building and change. They believe if we are intentional about conversations, if we listen actively, if we empower others to find their solutions, and if we pratice these consistently, then reflection and powerful changes in thinking can occur.

I want to focus on active listening in this post. I know how important it is to be fully engaged in the conversation. It lets the other person know that I am interested, that I care and that they are heard.  It builds trust. It allows others the time to think aloud and work through ideas. That said, I am far from the perfect listener.

It can be so hard to put aside the day to day jobs or look up from the keyboard to really listen to someone else. I have to work to curb the urge to speak and to give my opinions (of which I have many, as anyone who knows me can tell you!). Yet I know that listening shouldn’t be about me. It’s about the other person.

Recently I sat in on a group of eight principals and vice principals talking about an initiative within our district. It was fascinating to observe who spoke and who didn’t. (Mostly those who might be perceived to be more powerful within our district hierarchy spoke. A lot.) It was even more interesting to take note of who seemed to be really listening. Some participants seemed more eager to be the first to state a point. Often, when I find myself in a group situation, I also have to consciously work to listen, pause, and paraphrase. It forces to me take account of what others are saying.

Photo Credit: highersights via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: highersights via Compfight cc

Careful listening also allows me to know our staff, our students, our families and my colleagues better. It leads me to reflect more deeply on my own ideas and preconceptions. It allows me to learn as I think about what was said.

When we listen more than we talk, the payoff can be huge. It’s worth the effort.

Commenting is Connecting

ETMOOC Post #1


When I blog, I do it for me.  The act of writing provokes more focussed reflection. It takes my thoughts about a topic or issue and forces me to bring them to order.  Every time I blog, I learn about what is really important to me and how to communicate it.

I also have to admit, however, that it’s quite thrilling to have people comment on my blog posts. Not only does that mean that someone is actually reading my words, but they are interested enough to ask questions or continue the conversation. Often a comment will spark another thought or lead me to a deeper understanding of my own words. Sometimes a reader will even find something I didn’t intend, but upon reflection I realize that meaning was hidden in plain sight from me. Those epiphanies are a true gift.

I follow some amazing blogs which teach me and inspire me. I am amazed how insightful these writers are. I often find myself thinking about a post later as it builds new schema in my understanding.  Others’ words can have a profound effect, so why don’t I share?  I have commented on a few blogs, but usually I make some excuse to myself about not having time. That’s going to change!

After Orientation week at ETMOOC, one idea really took hold. By commenting on blog posts I read, I can connect with a much wider network of people.

That’s my ETMOOC resolution. Are you with me?