Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rethinking Awareness II

The next time a student approaches you to talk, try maintaining eye contact with her for the duration of your conversation. This may be difficult at first, especially if there are other students clamoring for your attention or if you are in a distracting environment. But your eyes can focus your energies. If you are chatting with someone and he is looking past you, to the side, or anywhere else besides where you are, you know that he is not really there with you in the moment; he is thinking about other people or other things. Why bother opening up to a person who will only catch a small percentage of what you share anyway?

Another method for cultivating awareness in your conversations with students is to reflect things that they are saying to you, and then follow up with a question. For example:

Brody: “Mr. D, guess what?”
Mr. D: “What?”
Brody: “We went to the beach this weekend!”
Mr. D: “Really? So you went to the beach? Did you go with your family?”
Brody: “Sort of. My mom took me and my best friend for the weekend.”
Mr. D: “That’s great that you were able to bring your best friend along. Wasn’t your dad able to make it?”
Brody: “My dad is out of town on business almost every weekend.”

If you practice these simple habits of awareness in your conversations with students, you will gain greater insight into their world and their life. Try it!

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