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The Soft Teacher is all about being human.

Soft Teaching Techniques by Robert Scorby


The Swing Talk / Listening

The Swing Talk is simply finding a comfortable and familiar place to allow a student to talk about what is bothering him or her without the adult giving any feedback. Just listening.

I have found that sitting on a swing and softly swinging is a wonderful place to allow this to happen. It seems to be calming (for the child and for me) and tends to allow a child to open up while not getting agitated. Sometimes it is good for me to make eye contact, but sometimes it helps to just stare ahead. Sometimes it helps me to repeat what a child says so that he or she knows that I understand, or knows that I am listening (However, this has been dangerous when I have repeated what a child has said and he or she felt that I got it wrong). Sometimes it helped to nod my head to openly show that I was listening. Sometimes, though, it helped to just listen and not show any oral or body language responses.

At the end of the session, I would tell the student thanks for sharing, that I am glad to know what he or she is thinking, and I would add that I will consider what was said. I do not tell the student where he or she is right or wrong.

If the behaviors that inspired this conversation were critical enough for me to set or keep boundaries in order to maintain order and safety, I asked the student if he or she could help by following the boundary while I considered what was said. I gave a time when I would get back to him or her to discuss a solution to make a plan. I had this time be later, when neither of us were on the high end of the stress curve. Then I needed to be sure to honor the commitment. At our meeting we would come up with a plan together. Both the child and I would suggest "what if we do this" ideas. I would have to remember to keep listening.

I have found that these conversations have been empowering to both the child and to me.

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Robert Scorby Copyright January 9, 2007 (all rights reserved)