By Sarah Spuz
To explore the act of listening, teacher candidates in Dr. Dawn Woods’ Winter 2021 sections of Teaching Mathematics at the Elementary and Middle Level were asked to “Listen for the Gold” based on a reading from the book Listen Like a Storyteller: A Guidebook on Attention and Finding the Truth in the Narrative Age (McCann, 2019). Teacher candidates found a few moments when working with their students to close their eyes to focus on hearing, enjoying, and to listen for the gold. Here is one of the narratives about what they heard as they listened and how it connected to their work as teachers.
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I decided to do this exercise in my field placement classroom. I am in a Kindergarten classroom and the first [time] they went back to in person classes, I was there. The class was split up into AM and PM groups so I really had the chance to listen in and pay attention.
Since the day prior was Martin Luther King Day, my teacher showed an age-appropriate educational video addressing the topic. They also had a conversation on how some people were treated differently based on their looks. In the lesson, I could see all the students really paying attention and asking questions to learn more about the topic. I heard one girl just keep asking her friends around her questions about the topic. She also asked my teacher a question about why this happened. She also kept making sounds that expressed her sadness and curiosity about the topic.
The activity that I did, really had me zone in and pay attention to the students in my classroom. When I pay close attention to their reactions, questions, and curiosities, I can have the opportunity to see how they feel about the topic. Focusing on them seems obvious and simple, but it can make a huge difference. Sometimes as we are teaching, we focus on just getting the content out there. When we are teaching and see those moments of curiosity, we should never dismiss it. It can open the door to many different opportunities and possible conversations. When I saw this one student making all these sounds and faces, my teacher and I acknowledged it. This made the lesson so much more meaningful seeing the children connect and ask questions about the topic. To also see them develop their own opinion at such a young age was really awesome to see.