In the article Lazebnik quotes Dr. Lynn Koegel, clinical director of Koegel Autism Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, saying that “an optimal conversation flow has each person talking about 50% of the time.” And how is that flow achieved? By asking questions. By actually listening “to what the other person is saying” and finding openings for questions, as Lazebnik writes.
As I wrote in my June post, teachers can train students to be good question-askers, and schools can develop whole cultures around being attentive to others and inquisitive about what they’re saying. But it begins with the adults in the school, before it gets to the kids. Those adults have to know how to listen and ask effective questions before they can teach their charges to do the same. And maybe a starting point for adults in a school is a survey built from Lazebnik’s observations: “Do you notice that people at parties always excuse themselves to get a drink when you start talking?” Seriously. I could see a school leader having fun with her staff, before they get to the hard work of changing behavior. Maybe even using a stopwatch to time people talking during the staff meeting on this subject.
Well, they can at least start by reading the Lazebnik article.