Catalyst for Change!

I attended Renee Lighton's Workshop in Johannesburg in May this year. She shared  literacy and numeracy ideas and the importance of listening and speaking and how that impacts on the quality of our thinking. She invited us to do news time in a different way.

I took the challenge and decided to shake things up a little. I explained that today they were going to share our weekend news with a friend and each person was going to have a turn to talk while the other person listened. The tallest one of the two would begin talking first. Most of them sorted that one out themselves and although there was a bit of measuring up eventually we settled down and I said they would have one minute to share and I would then tell them when to swap.

Well, they were amazing!!! I was surprised to see how focused and interested in each other they were. Some of them even engaged in the story with responses and asked their partners questions. The concentration and listening that took place was remarkable. I did not even have to give the one minute signal as they swapped over in a natural way that a conversation would flow and the other person had their turn. I loved the way they engaged with each other not just on a conversational level but the physical aspect too. Two little boys were whispering into each other's ears, two little girls sat directly in front of each other holding hands and one group of three huddled together with their arms around each other.

It was most successful! They seemed thrilled that they had been heard and my impression was that they felt valued at the end of it. It didn't seem important that, I as the teacher had not heard their story just that someone had listened. I was so encouraged by the interaction of the children that I will be working on creating more opportunities for group work and active listening in my classroom.

Renee's Workshop was the catalyst that I needed to give me the confidence and motivation to bring change into my classroom. As a result I am more enthusiastic each day and my kids rarely give me behavioural problems because they are absorbed in stimulating, fun-filled and age appropriate activities. - Karen Adams.  Grade R teacher at Montrose Pre-Primary School, Sandton, Johannesburg. 

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