My students teach me. Teaching at the middle school level has made my consider the ways in which educators engage in dialogue. I have several middle schoolers who will speak to me, and share their hearts, re-teaching me things I have long forgotten.
When students sit with me, I make sure to listen. I ask simple questions, like, "Why do you say that," "What makes you feel that way," "Can you clarify what you mean," "I'm not sure I understand what you mean, could you say it again?" These questions teach me what it means to listen and learn, not to teach, but to facilitate conversation. I don't provide an opinion, I don't provide advice, I give students the space to express. This is something that I didn't often receive as a child --- the opportunity to be heard. My old school Haitian-American background precluded the ability to always voice my opinion. It was more "be seen, not heard." I want my students to always have a voice.
In class, when silence is needed, especially when explaining new material, I tell my students, "I never want to silence you, but I do need the quiet in order for you to understand this material." Dialogue often involves silence. Dialogue does not happen without listening. Balancing the hearing, the talking, and the being heard is difficult at not only the middle school level, but even as an adult.
Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.