Listening to Children: Honoring Their Insight and Building Upon It

We were honored to have Dr. Megan Loef Franke as our keynote speaker on day two of our 2nd Annual Summer Conference on the Teaching of Reading and Balanced Literacy.  Dr. Franke is a renowned educator, researcher, author, professor, and Chair of the Department of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Professor Megan Franke and Jessica Martin, Growing Educators Co-Founder

Dr. Franke emphasized the importance of really listening to children, acknowledging what they say, and building upon their thinking to further their learning.  In doing so, this honors the thinking children are doing and enables us as educators to facilitate a learning environment in our classroom that is equitable, engaging, and creates a culture of building upon student’s strengths.

Dr. Franke suggests that really listening to students and engaging them in conversations about their thinking may be a culture shift in many schools, but is essential for students to grow in their thinking.

Dr. Franke gave us some tips when thinking about true, authentic listening:

  • Listen to what the student says
  • Take something specific the student says and ask them a specific follow up question about what they said
  • The student will learn to explain more and think more

Dr. Franke’s Keynote Address at our 2nd Annual Summer Conference on the Teaching of Reading and Balanced Literacy

Equity in schools is a predominant theme in Dr. Franke’s work with urban school in Los Angeles and she suggested that all students need to have a chance to explain their thinking, within an organized classroom structure, including: partners, small groups, whole class, with the teacher, or another adult.  She went on to say research shows that engaging conversation around details of each others ideas in a classroom matters to our students’ success.  The notion that someone is listening to your ideas and you are engaging with someones ideas helps students achieve. Dr. Franke urges all educators to transform schools by starting small, reexamining how we structure what happens in classrooms, by listening to students daily, and engaging them in meaningful talk around their thinking.

She says, “Listen to what students have to say, they’ll surprise you!”


For more about Dr. Megan Loef Franke’s work, click here.

Written by Growing Educators Staff Developer Courtney Kinney