Who’s listening? Who’s talking?

The much discussed concept of learners identifying problems – not only solutions is at the forefront of mind today. There is much talk around teachers who talk too much. We know this is real. We know we all do it. So why is it that teachers feel they should reword, finish sentences, provide their perspective  and step in so often? It puzzles me.

Today I sit with a Year 6 child who is on her PYP Expedition. Her teacher feels that she might be a bit lost. She starts off by reading “her questions” to me. They seem rather abstract and I dig a bit deeper. She tells me how someone helped her “make them up”. We chat a bit more. It seems like in forcing her to ask questions, rather than view her area of interest and analyse the parts (the thing routine Parts, Purposes and Complexities, shared by Project Zero’s  Agency by Design would have extended this thinking), has hindered her from exploring what she really wants to find out about.


I listen while she talks and I create a mind map of her thoughts and suggestions. When she is finished talking, I ask her to think about the lenses that she will be using in her exploration and she immediately identifies the concepts that will scaffold her thinking.



When our time is up she says,”This feels more like what I want to be doing”.

I am left pondering some of my own “big questions” …

Who’s  doing the listening when children are talking?

Who’s  doing the talking?

What message do children get when their voices are shut down?

What buy in is there from learners if there questions are forced; paraphrased and contained?

Do we all have an idea of why it’s important to know ,”Who’s listening and who’s talking”?



About Jina Belnick

I am a full time learner - tumbling head first into education and joining my learners on the amazing adventures that we encounter daily at our PYP school in Melbourne, Australia.I am currently working in learning support, feeling the waters and seeing how teachers and learners are best supported. I am a listener and a leader, an inquirer and a follower. I'm loving the ride!
This entry was posted in Inquiry, Jina, Learning, learning support, PYP. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Who’s listening? Who’s talking?

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hi Jina
    Something I’ve been thinking more and more about in my practice is teaching as an art of listening and learning as conversation. Yet in class, I’m mindful that the balance is off. That I’m spending way too much time talking and need to re-think how I’m doing things.



  2. I’m developing an app called “earshot” that is designed to let teachers measure and track their talk time! Please get in touch if you are interested in trying it out (we’re in the very, very early version stage – only ava. for iPhone right now). Kimberly@theearshotapp.com.


  3. I think this is a great reminder that we need to take a step back and listen to what our students think. Even if we think they are on the wrong path, it probably is a good idea to let them go down the path so that they can identify for themselves what may have gone wrong. Sometimes as educators we jump in too quickly and always want to help. It is definitely something I find myself often doing!


  4. Dolly says:

    NOT giving details. It’s very personal. But how do you calm down about knowing you may get yelled at tomorrow for doing something really wrong? And that person is super iniimidating.Thts person is in authority. I can’t just yell back or severe consequences could occur.


    • Jina Belnick says:

      Great question, Dolly! Is it about trusting teachers as professionals and allowing for people to learn and grow with their children?
      Is it about the shared understanding about how learning takes place and what is valued is a school?


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