#CyberPD Being the Change: Listening with Love

I am joining the summer #CyberPD community as we read and discuss Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.  

I was thrilled when I learned that this book was the one chosen for #CyberPD. This is a topic near and dear to my heart especially in our state of current events.  It is more important than ever that we are agents of change and support our students in doing the same.  Sara quotes Peter Johnston on p. 31, reminding us that the actions we want our students to take begins inside their heads.  We learn over and over throughout this book how important our language is and how messy this work can be.  Chapter 2 especially had an impact on me.

"If we want our kids to truly respect one another we have to meet them where they are, consider interactions from their perspectives, and find teachable moments along the way" (p. 31).  

This is hard but necessary work!  Not only do we need to consider others' perspectives, we need to create space and opportunities for our students to learn how to appreciate others' perspectives.  Sara makes a great point in using the word "mentor" instead of "teach" (there's that language thing) because she says, it's important that we are practicing these skills too. I would add that we practice these skills both inside and outside our classrooms.

Listening with love, the title of this chapter elicits powerful emotions inside of me.  Living the last 2 years with  foster daughters who have traumatic backgrounds has opened my eyes to the importance of listening with love and considering their perspectives during difficult situations.  There were many times that I was quick to come to a conclusion (usually negative), that changed when I came to better understand what was going on in their minds.  As I look forward to the next school year, I will have students in my classroom who also come from trauma.  Their needs are different from typical students and I want to make sure I provide a safe environment for all.  Listening with empathy lays the foundation for creating a space where all feel safe to communicate their beliefs and feelings. 

I appreciate the activities, sentence stems, and ideas for addressing tensions that are provided in this chapter.  I've highlighted so many parts of this chapter that I want to remember.  Here are a few:

  • Social comprehension is not always comfortable.  It strives for awareness and understanding, not consensus and compliance.
  • Consider:  Are there other ways to see this?
  • This work is messy because it is authentic and it deals with human beings.
  • Listening requires us to consider and utilize perspective, evidence, and language, connecting the new to the unknown, and we evolve as a result.
  • Our goal is to treat listening as an act of love.
  • When heated talks arise, we need to listen better.

I am looking forward to delving deeper into this book and continuing the conversation with others.  


  1. We adults can learn so much from this work. (As you have up close and personal in your family life.) I appreciate how Sara honestly approaches the tensions that will arise as well as positive/productive ways to deal with this.

  2. So much to consider in Sara's work. It aligns nicely with many of the conversations we had with CAWP. As you said, it also works well in the supporting students of trauma. It does open the door to sharing our stories, even the difficult ones. When I think about Ruth's work in Enticing Writers I see many ways to weave these conversations together. Thank you for returning to the "listening with love." What a perfect lens to consider as we sit beside our students and other teachers. Much to ponder.

  3. I love the new perspective you bring with your foster daughters .... it can be difficult to talk about identity and the meaning of names, when they have so much history and dealing with trauma. It helps provide a new angle for us to listen with love, like REALLY listen because sometimes silence says it all.

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