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10-15 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate




To teach students to actively listen to each other, which helps them feel valued and understood

  • Review and role model the components of active listening with students.
  • Identify a topic area for discussion.
  • In groups of six, assign the following roles to students one to six:
    • S1: is the speaker
    • S2: mirrors emotions
    • S3: paraphrases
    • S4: asks clarifying questions
    • S5: summarizes the content and feelings
    • S6: responds non-verbally
  • Students assume these roles as they discuss the assigned topic, and rotate roles so that each has an opportunity to experience all roles.

NOTE: Attending/focusing is an active listening strategy that is used in conjunction with all the other strategies, it ensures the listener is paying attention to the speaker.

Further guidance and support may be needed for students to navigate cultural nuances of communication. 

Students can use an active listening strategy chart:

Active Listening Strategies Looks like
Mirroring emotions
Asking clarifying questions
Using non-verbal responses/gestures
An “exit pass” is used at the end of the activity

Exit Pass:
One active listening strategy that I use well:
One active listening strategy that I will work on:
I can practice this strategy in these situations:

Reactivity to others’ emotions is highly related to empathy and prosocial behaviour (Flournoy et al., 2016). Engaging in active listening can help students practice empathically responding to others’ thoughts and emotions, which fosters a safe community of empathic concern, and compassion in the classroom (Pace et al., 2013; van Schaik & Hunnius, 2016).

Flournoy, J. C., Pfeifer, J. H., Moore, W. E., Tackman, A. M., Masten, C. L., Mazziotta, J. C., . . . Dapretto, M. (2016). Neural Reactivity to Emotional Faces May Mediate the Relationship Between Childhood Empathy and Adolescent Prosocial Behavior. Child Development, 87(6), 1691-1702. doi:10.1111/cdev.12630

Pace, T. W. W., Negi, L. T., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Ozawa-de Silva, B., Reddy, S. D., Cole, S. P., . . . Raison, C. L. (2013). Engagement with Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is associated with reduced salivary C-reactive protein from before to after training in foster care program adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(2), 294-299. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.05.019

van Schaik, J. E., & Hunnius, S. (2016). Little chameleons: The development of social mimicry during early childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 147(Complete), 71-81. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2016.03.003

In our Catholic faith, the idea of being and belonging is important. When we feel valued and understood, we have a strong sense of connection and belonging to our schools, families and communities.

Catholic graduation expectations (5a) A collaborative contributor who works effectively as an interdependent team member.

Self-regulation and well-being: to develop relationships with others and their contributions as part of a group