Habit 5: Seek first to understand
One of the first characteristics I notice about others is their listening skills. I think I do this because I notice how it makes me feel when someone is truly listening to me. Way back in highschool my favorite teacher recruited me to start Peer Mediation program and the first thing we learned was active listening and communication in order to find conflict resolution. This was such a valuable skill to learn as a teen and is probably why I notice if others really listen or even demonstrate interest in hearing my perspective because I can then gauge the amount of work or I value I add to the relationship.
The people dearest to me, such as my husband, mother and best friend are excellent listeners. They make everyone around them feel heard and valued and thus have many friends. This is why people want to follow leaders who know how to listen. Knowing and valuing this quality in others makes me strive to make a conscious effort to listen more than I speak. Now, as I practice Habit 5: Seek to First to Understand then to be Understood, I will listen with the intent to collaborate in solutions. I find myself with the position to do this I have joined the SELPA Leadership committee as the only person representing Special Class Programs.
Teaching this habit in my classroom will be seamless as I have been teaching an empathy unit in our Social Emotional Learning. Conflict resolution is a hot topic on campus and many teachers have embedded this into their class meetings. Now that my students are familiar with what empathy is, I am going to teach them how to apply it with the habit of “Seek to First to Understand then to be Understood.” I have some prompts available for them such as “I hear you saying that you feel ___when ___...” to support my students in practicing listening. I have also written IEP goals which involve conversing with perspective taking and this could be another opportunity to support my students in meeting their goals and build social skills.
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