Why do some students not listen in class?

When I was looking for the ‘why do some students not listen in class?’ question on the internet, I was staggered to see that there were 1.26 billion search results just today!! Clearly this question and the solution for it seem to be something a lot of us educators (and parents/carers) look for on internet.

I found a simple but profound answer to this when I practiced the SEJ Process recently with a student when we were just not communicating with each other. I was caught up in my head with ‘he is not listening to me’ and became increasingly frustrated and irritated. My shoulders were tight, and I was beginning to raise my voice when I stopped. I realised, as the SEJ process was working through me, that actually it was me who was NOT listening to him. Upon exploring this further it was more truthful to say that I was not prepared to listen to him but to vocalise what I wanted to say…

In essence I was on full ‘transmit’ but the student was not receiving the message. It is as if we were at different frequency much like radio signals. I was fully broadcasting on one frequency while he was on another frequency. Me raising my voice would be like turning up the volume but he still would not be able to ‘hear’ me! Putting it like this makes it amusing and I smile now at the absurdity of my behaviour! But I can own this and say that I have done this in the past raising my voice repeating my message in ever increasing volume to no avail.  I wonder how many of you have done this also?

Only now, because of the SEJ process I practiced, I can clearly see the mismatch of communication is my error not the students. The responsibility of ‘transmitting’ is mine as I am the one who is teaching/educating them; the student’s responsibility is to turn up (receive) and listen.

We all know how to communicate effectively and clearly without raising our voice (and our temper). I now find myself in a calm and happy place where I can communicate in the way that they can hear/receive my message and the students are also in a happy place because they can now understand what the lesson is all about.  All it took was for me to practice the SEJ process and it took no time to do so and saved me from a frayed temper and a sore throat!

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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