How to Listen with Compassion in the Classroom

In classroom environments where the need to belong is thwarted, young people may grasp for power and prestige rather than learn how to form authentic connections. Students may try to fit in in negative ways like bullying, buying in to peer pressure, or conforming to negative stereotype, because, often they lack the necessary social-emotional skills to form healthy, supportive relationships — which leads to a fear-based classroom atmosphere that impedes learning. Martha Caldwell, a teacher and teaching consultant, shares how we can intentionally design classroom communities that challenge this dynamic by teaching and modeling compassionate listening to “foster belonging, inclusion, and learning in the classroom.” She lists practical tips in the form of seven principles to help cultivate compassionate listening skills — applicable to children and adults alike.

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