Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Advocate by Listening #NCTE16
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-4143,single-format-standard,ajax_updown,page_not_loaded,,vertical_menu_enabled,qode-title-hidden,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-theme-ver-13.1.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.5,vc_responsive

Slice of Life: Advocate by Listening #NCTE16


Children’s desire to express themselves is relentless. – Katherine Bomer

Each year we spend some time on our journey home from NCTE reflecting on our takeaways from the conference.  We search for a thread or pattern to connect the thoughts and ideas we heard throughout the sessions. This year the theme of the conference was the Faces of Advocacy.  There are so many ways we can advocate as educators –policy, teacher voice, or student voice are only some of the options.  As we settled in for our two-hour flight, we reread our notes and talked about our big ideas and what we would bring back to our work in schools.  What is the theme for us this year?  What do we want to hold close in our work this upcoming year?  If we had to sum it up in a word, what would it be?


Listening to our students is one way we can advocate.  Katherine Bomer shared that we not only need to create space, we need to “guard space for our students to think, connect and talk.”  When we guard this space, we get the opportunity to listen to them; to support them listening to each other; and invite them to listen to themselves.

We believe there has never been a more important time than now to focus on listening.  It seems that social media and the internet flood us with so much information and make it so easy for each person to “say” what they want to communicate.  Listening may become a lost art.  How do we advocate by listening?

We listen to:

  • understand who our students are as readers, writers and people
  • connect what our students know with what they are trying to learn
  • grow and change our perspective based on a new point of view
  • consider – without consideration we can never come to a place of understanding
  • help our students develop their own identity through listening to their own words and responses to the words of others
  • feel the impact of our words on those around us
  • let another person know we care to hear their words

As educators we listen so closely to our students to hear them – truly hear them.  The only way to advocate for them is to know them.  The only way to know them is to listen to them.

Our advocacy can also support them in creating a stance in life that urges them to listen so closely to those around them.  A stance that reminds them to always slow down, to consider the point of view of others and to listen with an open mind.  This stance, or way of life, will help them discover they always have the power to choose kindness and acceptance.  When listening, rather than talking, is the goal we choose our words more carefully and purposefully – we talk with the perspective of others in mind.

If we slow down to listen and teach our students to do the same we are advocating for our them and teaching them to advocate for themselves and others.  We believe this quote sums it up best:

“Do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who’d be kind to me. That’s what people really want, if they’re telling the truth.”                            The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Listening is the first step.

We love going to NCTE each year.  It is always a time to listen and be inspired by new ideas; to listen to mentors who ground us as we grow; to listen to friends who know us and help us challenge our thinking; to listen to our hearts and remember the power of being a teacher.

Teachers Matter, Kids Count!


  • Avatar
    Paula Ruedebusch
    Posted at 13:59h, 22 November Reply

    I suspect LISTEN may be just the right ONE LITTLE WORD for the coming year…

  • Avatar
    Posted at 14:31h, 22 November Reply

    This is a brilliant reflection – LISTEN – a powerful word!
    Loved spending time together at NCTE!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 16:46h, 22 November Reply

    Listen was my favorite OLW. Listening to build our understanding of kids is so important. Beautiful reflection and it was great to see you at NCTE. Next year, maybe more than just in the hall ways!

  • Avatar
    Margaret Simon
    Posted at 18:43h, 22 November Reply

    Love that you gained this insight and shared it. I want to read everyone’s post and teleport my mind back to this amazing conference. I am so glad we met and chatted. Keep on doing the work you do. We need it.

  • Avatar
    Margaret Simon
    Posted at 18:43h, 22 November Reply

    Love that you gained this insight and shared it. I want to read everyone’s post and teleport my mind back to this amazing conference. I am so glad we met and chatted. Keep on doing the work you do. We need it.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 19:49h, 22 November Reply

    What an insightful tribute to that conference – loved seeing you both, however briefly.

  • Avatar
    Dayna K Wells
    Posted at 01:20h, 23 November Reply

    Thankful for so much. ALL of you at TWT, the bloggers and learners who gather here. And tonight for a visit home.


  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 01:34h, 23 November Reply

    It’s funny how so many of us comment on how we wish we could have seen each other more. Listening is such an important element of democracy, really. I love that you include consider. Clare, you pushed my thinking on Saturday night in ways that really made me consider other perspectives. You two are both such amazing contributors to the world of literacy. Thank you.

Post A Comment

Verification *