When Was the Last Time You Stopped Talking?

image from icanread

I didn’t know how much expertise I needed to stop talking until I switched districts.  Having to start over again, being brand new and friendless, I started listening better, quieting myself, and tuning in.  I started asking for help, recognizing that not only was I in a new district, but also in a new school, in a new grade level, on a new team.  Amazing what changes does to your listening skills.

What I heard was astounding; it is quite remarkable when you stop talking about your own ideas and listening to those of others, what you learn.  I couldn’t believe the varied experience of people, the things they knew, the ideas they had.   Sure, I knew I had been surrounded by greatness before but I hadn’t paid much attention to it, I was usually too busy forging my own path, sharing my own thoughts, touting my own expertise, when I should have been listening.

In fact, now that I think about it, I wonder when I stopped listening to others as much.  When did I become the supposed veteran or expert in the room?  When did I start to feel that I had more to teach than to learn?   I feel like all of those labels that people so graciously bestow upon me due to this blog has sometimes plugged my ears.  But not anymore.  Thank you 7th grade!

So my challenge this year is to stop talking so much.  To start listening more.  To actively learn from others.  Not just those that I adore online, but those I get to call colleagues every day.  Teaching shouldn’t just be about teaching others, it should be about our own learning journeys.  hOw we are listening to the genius that surrounds us.  I know we all have amazing things to share, but for a moment, allow others in so they can share.  So ask yourself; who are you learning from tomorrow?  Who are you listening to?  If it is yourself, then you’re probably doing it wrong, just like I was.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

4 thoughts on “When Was the Last Time You Stopped Talking?

  1. It feels good when you read someone who lived something you did too.
    I can assure you I felt your words like music to my ears …
    Regardless of the fact I am heading retirement very soon, I can assure you that you are a source of inspiration.
    May the junior teachers discover your work and spirit!

    🙂

  2. This was some of the advice I put in my back-to-school blog this year – to listen more. I think for new teachers in particular, it can be really tricky to find the balance between listening, and being able to find your own voice, and share the great things you’re doing. For those of use who are more experienced, listening decidedly becomes the more important piece.

    Thanks for the bit about feeling “friendless” – I remember coming home in tears from a first staff meeting with a new staff, realizing that no-one knew who I was (or particularly cared). I looked at my husband and said “what have I done?”. 🙂
    I learn so much from my colleagues every day. Thanks so much, particularly for the questions at the end. Who will I learn from today?

  3. Thanks for the reminder. We can all learn something if we just get out of our own way. PLD coming up on Wednesday and I plan to listen with active ears. Thanks.

  4. Awesome site! Thanks for all the resources and tips. I was wondering – how would you respond to the teacher that thinks parents won’t be able to access blogging due to families that don’t have computers and/or internet access at home?

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