Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Believing Game

While interviewing an applicant to the Inspired Teacher Certification Program last week I was struck by something he said in response to a question about feedback and how he has used feedback in his life. He said something along these lines:

“Whenever I’m in a situation where I’m hearing something for the first time, whether it’s critical, approving, hard to take, against my beliefs, whatever, I try my best to play the believing game. I listen with my whole self and take in everything I hear as if I were going to believe and take to heart every single word. When I have done this well, I know I have really heard the person speaking, and I have in my possession all the information I need to form my own opinions from what they have shared.”

This applicant had a background in theater and perhaps that is why the “believing game” sounds so much like the exercises one does in improvisational acting to become a character, understand motives, or immerse oneself in a scene. But what a valuable tool for a teacher!

What new things might we learn about our students and ourselves if we played the believing game more in our classrooms? What insights might we gain from being so fully present when listening to the voices of our children? How might the believing game change our approach to working with colleagues and administrators? What could practicing the believing game do to the culture of our school? If everyone listened to everyone more fully, what conflicts and misunderstandings would be avoided because everyone was being heard?

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