Knowing when to listen

Please let me stress, that i understand completely the education guru, whose name I choose not to mention in this post, was simply doing his/her job as a highly qualified sales rep at this meeting. I am not faulting he/she as much as I am trying to make a point about the importance of seizing the opportunities to listen to those who want and need to be heard.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to hear a well-respected education guru, who is retired from the classroom after a long and noted career but now works with a major textbook publishing company, talk about his/her core philosophy of education and how this philosophy had been married with the curriculum of a leading textbook company in order to make educators across the globe more effective thereby increasing student learning.

(I have used his/her philosophy for many years and find its data-driven application simple to implement and highly effective.)

The event, at which I heard him/her speak, was a relatively small gathering of less than a hundred educators who all taught in districts within a few miles of one another.  We had gathered together late in the afternoon after a day of teaching to enjoy a brief, free-of-charge presentation highlighting the newest curriculum release from the textbook publishing company featuring said guru.

After the presentation, many of us stood in line to shake his/her hand and maybe even have a book or two, we just happened to bring along, autographed. I was standing in the line behind a young, first or second year teacher. She shook hands with the guru and proceeded to thank him/her for the presentation and then ask a question.

I knew when I heard the question that it was a real question requiring a real answer, not a reference to a particular section of the touted curriculum.

What do I do when…?

Unfortunately, the guru gave the young lady a pat answer.

Have you looked into our new textbook series…?

I was sadly disappointed, stepped out of line, and went home.

As I look back on that moment, I wish I had done something different before I left the meeting. I wish I had introduced myself to the young teacher, sat down with her for a few minutes and just listened.



About barbarawmadden

I began teaching in 1981, but after a few years decided staying home with my children was what was best for my family. After almost 20 years raising four children, I returned to the classroom in 2005.

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