Sue McAdamis

Sue McAdamis is a consultant who works to promote highly effective professional learning communities and collaboration skills for teachers and administrators throughout North America. She spent 30 years in public education.

Listening: The Forgotten Skill Necessary for Effective Collaboration

Margaret Wheatley (2002) states, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well. . . . Human conversation is the most ancient and easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change—personal change, community, and organizational change. . . . If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive. We share what we see, what we feel, and we listen to what others see and feel” (p. 3).

Active listening is often an overlooked skill and frequently abused in our hurried, modern world. Active listening can be frightening if we truly put aside our own judgments and become intent on what the speaker has to say. We might have to change our own ideas and be more open to the ideas of others. It is a skill that requires practice and discipline.

Active listening “allows the speaker to determine the agenda for what is said, seeks to understand the speaker’s views, is nonjudgmental, and honors the speaker’s perspective. Because it is so rare and powerful, I believe it is one of the greatest gifts one human being can give another” (Sparks, 2007, p. 71).

These strategies can help members improve their listening skills and increase their sense of community:

When have you experienced good listening? Wheatley (2002) says, “One of the easiest human acts is also the most healing. Listening to someone. Simply listening. Not advising or coaching, but silently and fully listening. . . . You can’t hate someone whose story you know. You don’t have to like the story, or even the person telling you their story. But listening creates relationship. By doing so, we move closer to one another” (p. 3).


  • Commit to full listening.
  • Put your own agenda aside.
  • Wait before responding.
  • Check for accuracy.
  • Listen through a filter.
  • Concentrate on the content, not the speaker’s appearance or delivery.
  • Avoid “piggybacking” and counterpointing.
  • Refrain from giving advice.
  • Be careful of questions.
  • Listen without obligation to act.
  • Listen with your body.
  • Sparks, D. (2007). Leading for results: Transforming teaching, learning, and relationships in schools (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Wheatley, M. (2002). Turning to one another: Simple conversations to restore hope to the future. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.


Larry Jones

I am new to the educational blog post and find that it is an effective method for identifying topics of concern; especially in education. Effective collaboration between educators needs to occur to be effective. one of the ways to get teachers to collaborate that don't want is to give” respect to get respect.” I feel that it is essential to respect each others opinion, especially as teachers, because we are working to achieve the same outcomes for students. The school system itself must allow a dedicated time for teachers interactions with collective visions and objectives set in place. The level of ownership they feel in the progression impacts how much teachers participate in collaborative work(Caskey & Carpenter, 2019).

Thanks again

Caskey, M., & Carpenter, J. (2019).Building Teacher Collaboration School-wide. Retrieved from

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Larry Jones

What an awesome topic. The teachers will need to generate an agenda that discusses essential aspects such as planning, teaching, and assessment of the students. The collaboration as a whole should include implementation of the curriculum that supports the students as well as classroom management and behavior practices. Effective collaboration will result in teachers respecting each other opinion in an interactive relationship. Through cooperative teaching, the teachers can come to a common goal in the same classroom for most of the time(Teacher Vision, 2019). The teachers can learn each others curriculum that will make for a smooth transition throughout the process. Furthermore, the teachers can share their strengths and areas of improvement and work more effectively together as a team because the teachers will know each other characteristics.

Thanks for the information

Teacher Vision. (2019). Communication and collaboration between general and special education teachers are vital to the success of special needs students. Retrieved from

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Mary Jacqueline Oranye

I am glad that you wrote on active listening as an effective skill for effective collaboration. As educators we are often dealing with so many things at once that we sometimes fail to practice active listening skills. I agree with the quote from Margaret Wheatley (2002), that we can change the world when we go back to actively listening to each other again. Active listening skills are so fundamental to successful relationships because they are the only means by which the parties who are involved in a conversation can make their ideas known to each other. It does require patience and practice as we learn to put aside our own ideas and perspectives in order to enter into what is being said. The strategies that you have included will be especially useful in a Professional Learning Community (PLC).

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Tarsha Deadwyler

Often times, educators tend to forget about active listening; it is a main component to interpersonal communication. As educators, we should be able to engage in active listening as well as interpersonal communication during collaboration to have a stronger impact on classroom instruction and student learning. Collaboration is critical to student success because teachers can share and absorb ideas from their colleagues. During these meetings, it is important to listen without judgment and negative criticism. Sonia Nieto (2003) states, "creating communities of learning among teachers is necessary if they are to remain connected to their profession, their students, and one another."


Nieto, S. (2003). What keeps teachers going?
New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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