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Around the Table

Bravo! You listened. It is so hard to choose to listen.  Listening is a skill. Too many times, we passively listen, or we plan how we’re going to respond without hearing everything the person has to say.
As a former high school educator, I have had the honor of receiving a few thank you messages from former students via social media. Students I listened to. While I am glad they’ve moved on into successful lives, and I’m certainly humbled by the gratitude, I do wonder about the students I missed. I’ve taught thousands of people, some of whom had untimely deaths, one of whom died in a gang-related incident.  It is devastating to hear of accidents like these and wonder if you could have done something. As teachers, we can’t save all of our students, but we sure do want to.  It is with that spirit we adults continue to teach, parent, and mentor the next generation.
As adults, there is an enormous responsibility to listen. I try to remember to be mindful and focused when listening, especially to teenagers since they are in transition and so easily influenced. When I taught preschoolers during my college years, I learned to speak with them not at them. With small children, kneeling down, getting eye-level, and using a calm voice, I would ask them to use their words and tell me what was wrong. While not literally, you did get on David’s level, eye-to-eye, and using a calm voice, you asked a question and then listened. And David responded.
I no longer teach high school, but I am a first time parent. My 5 month old son will grow into a teenager, someday, and I intend to be a parent who listens to my son and engages in his life.

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