Take care how you listen (Part 2)

As I reflect on ways that students are hearing I turn to student evaluations, individual conversations with students, and published materials on learning for data to base my evaluation.  I think that a central topic is student attitudes.  Attitudes are reflections of the heart.  And attitudes can be very influential in our behaviors.  Below are some “student types” described by Mann.
Mann’s Student Type and Characteristics
Compliant: teacher-dependent; highly task-oriented; in class to understand material; comfortable with status quo; once student feels accepted by instructor –> independence begins to develop
Anxious-dependent: grade-focused; “trust teachers and assume that the grades they receive are justified”; “they feel angry about having less power in the educational setting than they would like.”; “low opinions of their own ability”; prefer simple right-wrong content
Discouraged Workers: demonstrate depressed and fatalistic attitudes; grade centered; low morale
Independent Students: Learning centered; independent; actively engaged; “apparent independence can be a cloak for rebellion”
Heroes: wants teacher to notice their work; “erratic, optimistic, underachievers”; “some underlying hostility toward authority figures or inability to maintain their commitment to a goal prevents them from playing this role to the end.”; “love discussion, can be annoyingly argumentative, never admitting that they have lost a debate.”; “fear that they might not be able to live up to their heroic ideal even if they try their best.”; impulsive temperament; I’m special attitude
– Snipers: hostile, cynical, habitual rebels, feelings of guilt and fear about their hostility lead to quick retreats when queried about their behavior; “can be respectful however, hostility stems from discomfort with authority figures and protects them from close contact with them”
– Attention Seekers: highly social; enjoy discussions and collaborative work
– Silent: silence is response to fear of not being accepted by instructor; typically desired for instructor to know them
Mann’s Student Type and Positive Instructor Responses
Compliant: help learners with self-efficacy and development of independence
Anxious-dependent: patience, acceptance, facilitate, affirm legitimacy of question
Discouraged workers: help lift their spirit in face-to-face conversation/small talk,  recognize student type; openly acknowledge recognition of discouragement
Independent: acknowledge independence of learner;challenge learner to stretch beyond expectations; low student productivity determining factor if independence is rebellious
Heroes: encourage this student type to put energies into structured course requirements versus giving “special assignments”
Snipers: form positive relationship; patience; ignoring behaviors does not generally work; respond focusing on positive in comments not negative; recognize the value of the student to the class; engage in short conversations outside class
Attention seeking: give attention but focus on academic work and reduce over time; draw into intellectual skills
Silent: don’t ignore; make it a point to go through roster regularly to note students; engage
It is interesting to note that in each description, the instructor is encouraged to use relationship to dissuade classroom incivility and improve student performance. The author notes also that this could represent stages of learner development which might imply that learners at different stages might be equipped differently to hear effectively.
Mastering the techniques of teaching.  Joseph Lowman. 2nd edition. (C) 1995. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Take care how you listen (part 1)

I was reading a short book title “Take Care How You Listen”.  Author, John Piper, reflects on the meaning of the Parable of the Sower.  He describes the main point of the parable “how to listen to preaching”.  However, I think there is some application here to teaching and learning.

Here is the parable:
“When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable:  “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.  Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant.  And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.  Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.  Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.  Luke 8:4-15 accessed www.biblegateway.com 7/8/13

Piper outlines two key points of the Parable:
1. how you hear has potentially positive and negative consequences
2. the heart with which you hear has implications for learning
With what heart do you think your students listen with?
How do you think that this might influence their learning?
As a teacher, what could you do to mitigate this learning obstacle?
Take Care How You Listen: sermons by John Piper on Receiving the Word.  (C) 2012 Desiring God Foundation