Enhancing relationships: Active listening

Tagged with:

  • Attitudes and values
  • Mental health
  • Relationships With Other People
  • Healthy Communities and Environments
  • Hauora
  • Health promotion
  • Years 1–4
  • Years 5–8
  • Years 9–10

Active listening highlights the skills that support active listening, and asks ākonga to think critically about the value of active listening for making and maintaining friendships.

Two girls looking at a model of a waka.

Understanding ourselves and getting on together — Activity collection

This resource is part of the Understanding ourselves and getting on together collection.

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Possible learning activities

In pairs, one ākonga tells the other what they did after school yesterday. Before listening to the story, the other ākonga picks a role card that tells them how to behave while they are listening, for example, fidgeting, not looking at the speaker, interrupting, giving advice during the storytelling, or going to sleep.

  • Ākonga can take turns being the storyteller. 
  • After the exercise, discuss with ākonga how it felt to talk to people who were behaving like that. Ask: 'How did that feel? Did you find it easy to keep talking?'
  • Ask ākonga to suggest how an active listener would behave, such as looking at the speaker, not interrupting, and asking questions to find out more information.
  • Repeat the role-play, with all ākonga practising active listening.
  • This is a good opportunity to discuss the tikanga of marae and mihimihi. Inside the wharenui, the domain of Rongo, sometimes a rākau is passed around so that everyone has an opportunity to speak without being interrupted. 

Pairs of ākonga are given an egg (a small ball), a nest (a cone or basket), and a blindfold. Ākonga take turns to get the egg to the nest while wearing a blindfold as their partner gives instructions. Do this activity outside in a wide open space.

  • Make the first round of the activity challenging for speaking and listening by putting distance between the speaker and the listener, allowing several speakers to give instructions at the same time, or creating distractions.  
  • Pause to discuss the challenges of listening in those circumstances and ask ākonga to identify solutions like finding a quieter space and allowing the speaker to move closer to the listener. 
  • Ask ākonga to repeat the activity to trial their solutions.
  • Make sure all ākonga have the opportunity to give and receive instructions.

Cultural and diversity considerations

All ākonga are part of wider whānau, hapū, iwi, and other community groups. Culturally capable kaiako and tumuaki know, value and integrate the cultural capital of their ākonga into the work of creating positive classroom communities. Classroom programmes dealing with mental health should be sensitively developed so that they respect and reflect the diverse values and beliefs of ākonga and the whole school community.

Active listening may look different for autistic ākonga, and kaiako may need to alter this exercise for inclusion, particularly around making eye contact. More guidance can be found at ASD Online.

Kaiako of Pacific ākonga will need to consider what active listening looks like for the Pacific peoples represented in their classrooms and may need to engage with whānau to deepen their understanding here. For Pacific ākonga, making eye contact may have different cultural significance. More guidance for dialogue with Pacific whānau can be found on Engaging with parents, families and communities, which is part of Tapasā on TKI.

Kaiako notes

Ākonga need opportunities to practise being active listeners. Reinforce this activity in all curriculum areas by encouraging ākonga to use active listening whenever they share their ideas and opinions.

The list of positive behaviours developed by ākonga could be recorded on a chart on the classroom wall for ākonga reference.

Focus inquiry questions around the learning before and after the activities to support ākonga to reflect and think critically about the activities.