13 Rules for Effective Communication in the Classroom #12 - Interrupting Our Students

      In any conversation, it is rude to interrupt. For some reason, though, when we adults begin speaking with students, we forget that they are people too and that normal rules of speaking apply when talking with them. If our goal is to “not provoke our students to anger,” then we must speak to them with respect. Unconditional respect.
      And we do mean unconditional. This means we respect them before they respect us. They do not have to earn our respect. None of this, “I’ll respect them when they respect me” stuff. Let’s try this question: Who is more mature: you or your student? All of us would answer us (even though we’ve probably all met some questionable teachers). So if we’re holding to the “I’ll respect them when they respect me” standard, that means we’re saying they’re more mature than us…because the mature one is going to respect first to set the example. Right? :) To repeat, you respect them first, all the time, and they can’t unearn your respect.
      With that laid down, that means: No interrupting. No cutting them off. Not to correct facts. Not to provide counterpoints. It breeds frustration, and after time, their frustration can boil into resentment. (And we can all imagine what resentful students are capable of.) Sure, sometimes students can make excuses without any end in sight or they’re more likely to grunt and hardly say anything, but we’ll worry about that when we’ve started following the rule closer. For now, we must take painstaking steps to hear everything our students are saying before we speak. Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “God gave you two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak.” Newsflash: Teachers have two ears too!
      When we let them share their thoughts without immediate correction, they are more likely to share in the future. They are more likely to speak out during discussions and in peer-to-peer share. They deserve the right to explore their thoughts instead of just accepting ours or others’. Open the floodgates of discussion. You won’t be disappointed. Who knows…you might actually learn something.
      A valid exception would be when students are disrespectful to other students. But even with these comments, see how much you can let your students make the social corrections. This will get them involved more and keep you from being the Final Answer.
      There are lots of other skills for becoming both an intentional and empathetic listener. But for now, try this:
  • Wait until they are done speaking.
  • Repeat back what you heard them saying. Not to correct a fact or disagree, but to confirm that you heard them correctly. “What I hear you saying is . . .”
       We’d be frustrated too if the adults around us didn’t really listen to us. We might even throw a tantrum. But if we do this step, our students will feel heard and will be less likely to react out of frustrated anger.


Check out the other rules >>>


These rules are adapted with permission from Roger and Becky Tirabassi's premarital workbook for seriously dating and engaged couples - The Seriously Dating or Engaged Workbook. Roger and Becky have also co-authored a book for married couples called Little Changes Big Results for Crazy, Busy Couples. The principles in these books have changed so many areas of our life. We highly recommend them.


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