Best Practices for Listening in Class

Written by Alicia Scott on October 15th, 2014

Here at Providence we love what we teach and we dearly hope to pass on as much of it as we can in our classes, both so that the students can take that knowledge with them out into the world, but also for a very practical reason. The more a student learns while in class, the less they have to study and drill at home and the more time they have for their families and other activities. Also, learning while in the classroom, and then cementing that knowledge at home, helps to encode that knowledge in the students’ long term memory.

We would love to share with you some tips we learned about how our students can listen well while in class and remember what their teachers impart.

  • Release your Anxiety: Leave your issues at the door. That disagreement with another student, the worry about splattering your skirt with ketchup at lunch time, the anxiety about the game that evening — all of them can crowd the lesson out of your mind. Say a quick prayer, take a deep breath, and come to class with a clear head.
  • Prepare Yourself: Make sure you have located your homework before you come in, picked up all the books you need, used the restroom and anything else you need to do to feel ready for the lesson ahead.
  • Block out Distractions: Perhaps your teacher’s new glasses keep catching your eye, or you find yourself wondering why the lights keep flickering in the back of the room. Catch your mind wandering and pull it back to the lesson. In the end, those things won’t be on the test.
  • Find the Hooks: Listen for the big ideas, that the little ideas hang on, like keys on a hook. When the information is organized in your mind, and in your notes, it’s far easier to remember.
  • Pan for Gold: Some of the lesson may seem boring, or repetitive, and you may be tempted to let your mind drift to more interesting things. This is when you need to be disciplined, and listen for the things you don’t already know. Make it a game if you must, to find the most interesting fact from the lesson and write that down.
  • Make Eye Contact: Keeping your eyes focused on the teacher will help you stay focused. You’ll find yourself more drawn in, and you’ll help your teacher as well. Eye contact is powerful, particularly in this day and age when so many of our eyes are cast down toward a screen.
  • Use your Speed: We think far more quickly than we speak. Use that to your advantage to sift through the teacher’s words and decide what needs to be written down and what you can let go. Summarize, paraphrase, and put those important things into your own words as you take notes.
  • Meet the Challenge: Don’t give up and stop listening when you find the information difficult to understand. Listen even more carefully at these times and ask questions for clarification.
  • Raise your Hand: Interact with the lesson. When you don’t understand, let the teacher know. Perhaps he or she just needs to restate it, or give a different illustration. If you think you understand, but aren’t sure, restate what the teacher said in your own words and give him or her the chance to clarify. Your teacher wants you to learn!