Listening to one another is an often-forgotten building block in all communication.

Dalat has four categories of Student Outcome Statements (SOS) Flagships for our school. During the last quarter of each school year, our SOS focus is “Relationships.” Today I want to focus on the part of this SOS that states: “Dalat Students collaborate effectively by listening and giving feedback respectfully.”

Some may wonder why we put the Relationship SOS at the end of the year when students have already built friendships with one another. This is intentional because this is the time of year when we see significant challenges in students working well together.

A number of things contribute to challenges in relationships this time of year. Each year, our community faces the difficulty of saying goodbye to people we care about. Some people cope with this by alienating themselves or others as a defense mechanism. It is much healthier, though, to go through the grieving process and say goodbye well. Another factor is that many of our students face time pressures that lead to stress. As the academic year draws to a close, deadlines approach quickly. The calendar is full of celebrations and events, but each one takes time and students are still learning to manage their time well. When under stress, students often neglect to treat others with kindness.

As we work to help our students navigate these challenges, this SOS statement is particularly beneficial. Listening to one another is an often-forgotten building block in all communication. We spend time preparing speeches and thinking about our responses, but taking the time to actively listen to others is foundational to understanding. When we listen well, we fully engage our minds in trying to understand the perspective of another. We watch their body language and tone of voice to catch more than the words they are saying.

The next step is to give feedback respectfully. Even when we are facing times of stress, it is important for us to use kind, respectful language in talking with one another. If we have listened well, we will have greater empathy and understanding for others. This will help us to be respectful and generous in our language.

I often refer to this simple verse from the Bible with my students. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19b) I think this is good advice for all of us to follow.

Written by Shawna Wood

Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school​.
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