As you recognize the difference between passively hearing and actively listening, not only will your grades improve but your confidence will rise.
Here are some tips for actively listening in class. They all involve taking control of your life. Each one is a choice worth making.
- Determine to be a good listener. Make up your mind that you’re going to improve your grades, enhance your skills, develop new interests, and discover hidden talents.
- Come to class prepared. Do your homework. Review the lessons from the days before because they’re going to relate to what you’re going to learn today. When you need help, get it.
- Be positive. Choose to learn new skills and facts. (Yes, the decision is yours.) You’re the one who’s most responsible for your learning, so keep a positive attitude. Don’t let anyone get you off track.
- Be attentive. Focus on learning. Keep eye contact with the speaker, usually the teacher, or other smart students who are participating and contributing to the learning. Pay attention to what they say, how they say it, and the responses of others to their words and ideas. Emulate their strengths and put your own personal spin on them.
- Take good notes. Learn what kind of notes is best for you. Outlines? Lists? Diagrams? Drawings? Leave plenty of margin space so you can go back later and add to the notes or jot down questions for the next class. Listen for key points. Learn to write quickly, perhaps with your own abbreviations and notations. Then, go back to the notes as soon as possible after class to clarify anything you may have trouble remembering later. Nothing worse than looking at some scribble and thinking, “Now, what did I mean by that?”
- Take control. Stay away from distractions. That means disrespectful, talkative students – even if they’re your friends. (Although, why would you want to be friends with people who are determined to hold you back?) Don’t give in to distractions. Decide to give 100% of your attention to the speaker. Again, it’s your choice.
- Keep up. When the material gets tough, choose to stay with the program. Concentrate even harder rather than taking the easy way out and stopping listening. Recognize that staying with something difficult and mastering it eventually will only add to your skills and confidence. Strength builds more strength.
- Ask questions. If you’re struggling, ask clarifying, meaningful questions. Teachers can’t know if you’re having trouble if you don’t tell them. We teachers want you to succeed. We want you to enjoy our subjects as much as we do. We want you develop your talents. Show an interest, and watch how encouraging we can be!
- Be respectful. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t interrupt, criticize, mock, or be cynical. This is true in class and beyond. Listen, really listen, to what others are saying.
Be patient with yourself. You’re a work in progress. Start now in the classroom and be amazed at how far these skills will take you!