Learning to Listen During After-School

By Maggie Needham, Academic Coordinator and Lead Counselor

This trimester, the theme for our programming is feeling connected. During B-READY After-School, student spend all their time together with the other students in their groups. In LEARN, the Bridges (grades 1-2) have been spending the last couple weeks really working on building respect and community within our group.

One way that we’ve been learning respect is through practicing our listening skills. It’s important for us all to listen not just to staff members and volunteers, but to each other

Last week, we sat down in a circle and established a talking piece in our circle. We reviewed the expectations of using a talking piece: Whoever is holding it has their turn to talk. Whoever is not holding it has their turn to listen. No one interrupts. We each have a turn as the talking piece goes around the circle.

I offered a question to the group: Who is your role model?

We went around the circle. One student, Hanlet, smiled and referenced another student in the group: “My role model is my best friend Julean because he is fun and plays with me.” Another student, Jianna, talked about her mom, who is “always nice to me.” When a second grader, Chiyann, got the talking piece, she referenced the site director at St. Stephen’s, saying, “My role model is Mayra, because she makes a place where kids can go after school.”

Paying attention for so long is difficult for young people, and they still sometimes couldn’t resist a side conversation or a small outburst. But during this activity, the students focused on listening to each other, learning more about each other, and growing as a community -- learning to feel connected!

Two students pose with their writing on a whiteboard: "I'm happy to be here!!!!!!"

Two students pose with their writing on a whiteboard: "I'm happy to be here!!!!!!"