Listening is key to our quest for deeper learning. And we need to listen to several different ways to best bring deeper learning to our students. Here is part 1 of some explorations of who we need to listen to allow our students to learn deeply.
Listening For The Holy Spirit
The morning I began writing this, I walked around my neighborhood. It was a quiet winter morning with no wind at all. These are some of my favorite mornings to walk. With hardly anyone braving the cold the world seems rested and ready for a new day. As I walked, I heard a sound I had not heard yet this winter. The stillness carried the hoot of a barred owl to my ears. The owl lives around the trees, wetlands, and creek that meander through my neighborhood. As I walked over a bridge, the creek joined the owl’s song as it rushed past the rocks.
As I write this, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the loving kindness God gives each of us in the world that provides abundantly for our needs. This moment of stillness filled with nature’s songs reminds me that I am not alone in the world or in control of the world. All winter I hope to hear the owl, but this morning is the one when the song fills my ears. It reminds me that I could have missed it if I had not created the conditions to hear it. Wake early, put on warm clothes, leave out the earbuds, walk all the way to the bridge and back, each choice adding to the chances that I hear God’s world.
When I think about deeper learning, I like to think about listening. Each Christian teacher walks into their classroom each day, hoping to see the Holy Spirit move in some way, big or small, in their students. In the particular way of how I approach deeper learning (Teaching for Transformation) we say each teacher has a deep hope for their students. We ask them to uncover that deep hope and express it. We ask them to share it with their students and reflect on how their curriculum reveals it. Perhaps most importantly, we ask them to announce to the class when they see it, take a picture, and put it on the wall. These acts allow teachers to live more wholeheartedly because they are unashamed of their hopes and dreams. But more than those things, they invite us to listen more closely for the movement of the Holy Spirit among our students.
The Holy Spirit has been moving in our rooms all along, but somewhere along the way many of us stopped listening to all but the loudest sounds. This has a lot to do with the world around us. It is a loud and distracting cacophony. It invites us to talk first and listen only if necessary. Jesus seems to be the only one inviting us to be still. Our sin nature inclines us to not do what is best for us. Closing our ears has also been a self-preservation tool the last few years as teachers and administrators have been yelled at for things inside and outside their control. No matter why we stopped listening, it is time to remember we lose something vital when we stop listening.
Let’s reconnect with listening - maybe by starting with a walk in silence.