Are you listening? A question I ask my children at preschool, probably 100 times a day. ‘Are you listening to your friend?’ ‘Are you listening to the music?’ ‘Are you listening to the next instruction?’
All seemingly valid questions- except when we take a moment to think about if we are listening.
On Monday, the Early Years Leadership group met. We had a wonderful opportunity to speak with representatives from the Education Standards Board surrounding our Assessment and Rating processes as well as clarify some of our burning questions. From this we engaged in a workshop surrounding listening. While we had heard our questions be answered from the Education Standards Board, and while we had heard about ways of embedding our Growing deep foundational values, had we potentially not listened, to how this can translate to our own services?
There came a time in this workshop, for us to engage with the different personas who arrive to meetings. The four characters given were; a prisoner, a vacationer, an expert or an explorer. I was humbled by this simple quadrant placed before us. Who am I in this very situation? And even if I feel in myself that I am one of the four, how do I come across to others? I gazed around the room, seeing some writing, others typing and others still, observing. It was interesting to see the types of listeners we are, even within our own discipline. It started a line of inquiry about how we listen to colleagues and how they listen to us. In Psalm 17:6, it talks about how the psalmist asks God to ‘…Bend down and listen as I pray.’ Which is such a strong point for us in our Early Years sector, as we often bend down to be able to engage as equals with our children- just as God asks us to engage in relationship with Him.
Our third session of the day saw us greatly blessed by Jacqui from Curiosity ELC, Para Vista, share her experiences during her recent QIP and Assessment and Rating process. The words and wisdom from our earlier session were seen in action in this moment. Jacqui bore her strengths, her feedback and also, her areas for improvement. We, as the Early Years collective, were given tools and reflection points, cleverly, to help us engage fully with a sister as she shared her experience of this task.
Often, I think we take for granted the art of listening. It is much more complicated than we think, take away distraction, remove outside thoughts and engage non-verbally. To really listen, is a huge task. I hope to come across as an explorer in my profession, someone who when listening engages in a learning journey. Someone who can lead and listen, depending on the flow of conversation. I do feel though, from this an awareness of active listening has blossomed among our leadership group. I can only imagine what we will hear, what you will hear, now that we are listening.
Zion Preschool Centre, Gawler