UKEdMag: Show me that you’re listening by @Food_Teacher

Achieving Positive and consistent responses from pupils

Children only know what running looks like because someone has shown them how to run, how to smile, how to tie their shoelaces etc. So, why had I been telling my (only just) secondary students what to do, but not explaining what it would look like? This epiphany has stuck with me and had a massive impact on my classes.

I seem to have those phrases that I find myself saying day in, day out; one (there are many many more!) of them being ‘listen up!’ My students hear the instruction, but I’d never explained what exactly ‘listening up’ looked like. Until now…

In their first week of school, I started to train my tutor group to respond in a particular way to the phrase ‘show me that you’re listening’. I explained that listening looks quiet, it looks still, it looks interested. I explained what I, and other staff, would expect to happen when they said that phrase. That students would stop talking, they’d put their pens down and they’d look in the direction of the speaker. I explained that listening looked like this.

Now, whenever I use this phrase my tutor group model this instruction. They instantly (some quicker than others) stop talking, put their pens down and look at me. They know what it looks like… They know how to show me they are listening.

I have recently shared this information with other teachers that come across my tutees. Many have used the phrase, and have reported back that my team understand the command.

But more amazingly (and unexpectedly) my tutees positive and consistent response to the phrase has impacted on the other students, from other forms who are now also starting to model this behaviour. How did I overlook something so simple?!


This ‘In Brief’ Article first appeared in the March 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazineClick here to freely view online.

The online version of this article was updated in 2020 in accordance with website and policy updates by the UKEd Editorial team.

Follow Mahayla Clayton on Twitter via the @Food_Teacher account.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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