Armstrong teachers encourage listening as a way to teach

Panel discussion one way future educators learn from experiences of others

Monday, October 2, 2017

Never miss an opportunity to listen. That was the message echoed by eight Armstrong Teacher Educators as they spoke to students about their experiences with listening in their classrooms. The panel with the 2017-2018 Armstrong teachers was all about listening: how teachers should listen to their students and how they teach their students to listen to each other.

Dean Westman, founder and director of the Avon Orchestra Program at Avon High School, talked about how he sometimes stops conducting his students, forcing them to listen to each other to stay in tempo.

“If you can build a relationship with a student by sitting and having a conversation with them, you can teach them anything. If I can teach them to be a kind, considerate person, I think I’ve done my job,” Stacy Tolle, a seventh grade math teacher at New Castle Middle School, said.

But sometimes listening wasn’t just a verbal skill. Jamie Rainwater, a third grade teacher at Indian Creek Intermediate School, reminded students that young children often can’t verbalize what is bothering them. Paying attention to body language can be just as important and productive when figuring out what is wrong with a child.

And as for how to teach students to listen to each other? Elizabeth Streit, a third grade teacher at Spring Mill Elementary School, noted kids learn by example.

“You have to model it yourself. If the kids see you making eye contact and nodding along, they’ll do it,” Streit said.

The Armstrong Teacher Educator Award is an annual award that recognizes educator excellence. The award provides financial support for top Indiana educators to work with current IU faculty and undergraduates in the classroom and early field experiences. Since 1997, this award has been funded through the generosity of the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Fund and the Cook Group companies.