Eavesdropping 101 #sol18
March 10, 2018
I never really thought much about eavesdropping until I had the pleasure of listening to Sarah Weeks last weekend at the TCRWPW reunion. She actually recommended eavesdropping as the way she gets great snippets for her writing. She told a wonderful story about eavesdropping on a proposal (turned down) at Starbucks. This story and the idea of eavesdropping got me thinking, not about proposals but about listening in. So here’s some of the ways I eavesdrop.
Meetings are a wonderful place to listen in. During professional learning communities, and others just listen in. I admit readily in this company that this silence can be a challenge. However, when successful, opportunity abound to learn something. Nine times out of ten, it’s something I had no idea about. These tidbits could be things teachers are already trying, things their worried about, how assessments work for them, and what they are hoping for with their students. It’s mostly fair. They know I’m there, I try to blend in. Most of the time it works out.
Random Snippets between Educators
This is slightly sneakier. The act is unintentional. I’m waiting… at the copier, for the bathroom or I’m walking down the hall, to the parking lot. Lots of times, the educators include me in the chat which technically isn’t eavesdropping. Also, the conversations aren’t all that secret since we are all in public and they know I’m there. I see what they are copying, what their reading. I notice what they ask each other about.
Random Snippets between Kiddos
Mostly this just helps me know about them. What they like, what they read, what they play, who they chat most with. Sometimes though, I get real gems. What they ask each other help in. How they support each other… or don’t. When I have them turn and talk, I get a full blast of whether I got the teach across.
Other Peoples’ Coaching
This is one of my favorite things, but I don’t get much opportunity to do this. My current favorite humans to do this with are Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan. They are wonderful at coaching kiddos and their teachers. If I had my notebook with me right now, I’d drop some of their knowledge right on you. For now, follow Clare’s blog, she’s pretty transparent about her coaching.
I also encourage people to eavesdrop on me.
When I am having a chat with a student
Definitely not so much for what I’m saying, but what the kiddos say. This week I got a chance to plop down at a table with a bunch of coloring kindergarteners. They were making books, but not stories. As I began to talk to them about making these drawing collections into stories, their teacher began to listen to me and more importantly to them. The stories they created were wonderful treasures. We didn’t miss out on the moment.
I love conferring in other peoples’ classrooms. I’m pretty good at chat and I just chat up one child after another about whatever it is that they are working on. It’s difficult for a teacher to get around to everyone every day, but when I am there, she can hear a snippet and run with it later.
Working with a small group
Usually, when I work with one kiddo, other friends around us hear. Even when I’m quiet, I’m not all that quiet. Sometimes, I gear my talk to the table, or a nearby friends that wouldn’t chat me up himself. This works best in that active engagement or link. Most of the time, a review of focus lesson might ignite some thinking.
Talking to other teachers
Collaboration time for me in generally 1:1, but sometimes people drop by or hear something and join in. Hearing others’ questions or attempts can ignite a spark .
I do like listening to nearby restaurant tables, people in line, folks in the waiting area… anywhere. I haven’t taken to writing it down, yet.
Eavesdropping is noticing. Noticing what matters to folks. Noticing what people talk about day to day. Noticing what is important. Noticing leads to thinking. Thinking leads to innovation.
Still working on my writing every day in March thanks to the Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.