Keys to Middle school success – gear up you listening skills

My many years of education has led me to believe that this might be the top skill that any child needs to develop more than any other skill.  I am going to focus on the middle school child hence the title of this blog.  Listening skills will take care of over 95% of all troubles that middle school students encounter on an every day basis.  Teens and Pre-Teens have their own ideas and start developing that sense of who they will become during these important years of development.  The skill they often lack is to be able to hear what others have to say. 

I tell all my sports teams that secret of having an amazing season versus an average season is communication.  Communication is the key to making good grades in school, having healthy relationships with teachers, parents, and other students, and being able to know what you need to do to be successful.

What is the purpose of Listening?

  1. To Gather Information.
  2. To Understand another person view of a topic.
  3. To enjoy being around others.
  4. To learn new ideas and how to do new things to enhance our lives.

The five techniques I believe will help you become a better listener, but you have to practice being a good listener.  Just like everything you would like to be good at you have to practice and be repetitive in your practice.  These are five fundamentals of Listening that will be a survival tool for middle school success:

–Maintain Eye Contact

            –Always let a person see you are attentive to them.  They will be more receptive to talk directly to you if they know they have your attention.  This is a hard skill for middle school kids to learn.  I have had many conversations where a student will not look at me while talking to them.  I don’t get upset with them, I just tell them during the conversation, “It is easier for me to talk to you too, if you are looking at me because that lets me know you are Listening to me.”  It might take some time, but students will get comfortable enough to look at teachers when that trust is built. 

–Use of Body Language

            –Huge identifier of good listening skills.  Showing someone you are paying attention to them in middle school might be knuckle bumps for a good job or high five.  Often times a smile shows you have enjoyed what someone has to say.  Negative signs of body language that shows you are not attentive are crossed arms, looking at a clock, or tapping your fingers or feet.  Give someone you undivided attention.  Often conversations go quicker, and the plot of the story or conversation is quickly delivered.

–Provide key encouragers

            –Encouragers allow a conversation to keep moving forward, because the person talking will know you are listening and will not repeat themselves.  Some key encourages are simple, “Uh-huh.”, “Me too.” Or “Go Ahead”.  This is a great way to make new friends.

–Repeat what a person says

            –Repeating what a person say allows you a moment to reflect on what the person has said and for you to register a sincere response to the conversation.  This also prevents you from interrupting their story with one of your stories.  (Often changing the subject is considered rude.)  Listen to all they have to say before you change the subject. 

–Ask questions that will fill in the blanks.

            –If you feel you need more information to fill in the blanks, Ask those questions?  The other person has shared their story or experience.  Now is the time for you to sweep in with your five listening skills and prove to everyone including yourself that you have heard everything that needs to be heard.  Example of this is in class when the teacher says, “Does anyone have any questions?”  That is the time to answer the question to fill in the blanks.  Let the teacher know you have been paying attention.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on

Think about a person in your life that is a great listener.  Those people are someone you trust and have an impact on how you live your life: your preacher, your doctor, your mother, and for (middle school) your best friend. 

If you like my blog please share, comment, or just like.  Let me know you are checking my blog out and that you like what you see.  Thank you and God Bless.


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A Champion’s Heart – Excellence

The Winner’s Creed

Strive for excellence in thought, word, and deed.

Acknowledge the Almighty in all that you do.

Love your friends, speak the truth, practice fidelity and

honor your father and mother.

These godly principles are the foundation of life.

They make you strong of character,

give you hope, and put you on

the path of significance.

–John Peterson

A Champions Heart: Qualities for Success in Life & Sport by Jim Sheard & James F. Gauss was the first coaching development book I ever bought. The first meeting I have with my team every year the first thing I say to them is displayed in Chapter 1. Success in Athletics requires a coach-able spirit or attitude. If you do not want to be coached up fundamentally and mentally for the betterment of our team we probably are not going to see eye to eye.

That still brings me to the basis of every fiber of what I believe in that every person is capable of shooting for excellence in every thought, word, or deed that we do. It comes down to a choice. Sometimes we have to make choices that are difficult and it is hard to make those decisions. We never said it was going to be easy, but an attitude of excellence and the openness to receive coaching from someone you trust can get you to your spot of contentment.

Bobby Bowden said that every job he has ever had he never had to interview. They came to him. I love Bobby Bowden. I am an insane Florida State University fan. I love all their athletic programs. I have read all his books, watched every video I can find of him, and try to get to any place he might be speaking. He is a man of God and believes truly that God will lead you if you follow him. Bobby has a Champion’s heart.

I tell you this story about Bobby Bowden because I have a great attitude about loving what I do as a coach. I love the life God has placed in front of me, but I have not had the opportunity of someone chasing after me to coach their teams. I have interviewed at least 20 times for Head Coaching jobs always to lose out, but I learn something from every visit to schools and the people I have met along the way.

I tell you this not to complain but as a commitment to myself. To put myself out there to hold myself accountable to keep applying for and pursuing that Head coaching job but I am going to reinvent myself along the way. I am already a coach of many students and athletes for the past 15 years. I want to make a difference to many more across the country.

See what I just did. I made a commitment of accountability to myself. I am a winner no matter whether I get that high school job. I am a winner everyday by being a middle school coach. I am a winner everyday because I know who I am and where I can make a difference.

“Because if you’re willing to go through all the battling you got to go through to get where you want to get, who’s got the right to stop you? I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to someone, something… and you’re told no, even after you paid your dues? Who’s got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody! It’s your right to listen to your gut, it ain’t nobody’s right to say no after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do!” – Rocky Balboa


I challenge you to make a commitment to being a winner at life. Love your God, Love your family, Love your friends, and Love you life with all the excellence of the Winner’s Creed. Everyone has it in them to do so. Live life with a coach-able attitude and a commitment to Excellence.

If you like what you have read so far, please leave me a message telling about your commitment to being a winner. Tell me about where you want to be. Tell me your accountability story. Remember strice for Excellence in though, word, and deed. God Bless you all.


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