Principles and Strategies Of Effective Communication Presented By: Christian Caldarera M.Ed. Goals & Objectives As a result of this training – the educator will: Demonstrate an awareness of the importance of communication in schools Demonstrate knowledge of effective communication and listening strategies with staff and students Examine techniques to aid in the communication with students Demonstrate knowledge of ways to appropriately deal with conflicts between themselves, teachers and administrators Demonstrate the ability to work as a collaborative team with both general and special populations teachers Evaluate and assess techniques for communicating with parents, defiant students, applicable campus communication documents and FERPA EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONIN SCHOOLS Communicating effectively is the cornerstone of education. Without effective communication ideas, directions, and thoughts are lost or misunderstood leading to serious repercussions. As a result of poor communication, students may not understand lesson material, paraprofessional staff may not understand directives given to them, teachers may not adequately express themselves to others, meet deadlines, etc. In order to be understood in the manner we intend, we must learn and practice effective communication at all times within and outside of the school setting. Teachers must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in written form at all times to all shareholders in their class to ensure smooth lesson transitions, proper parental contact, administrative contact, student interactions and teacher to teacher interactions A teachers most POWERFUL ASSET is the ability to communicate effectively. It establishes your rapport, allows for success in teaching, properly educates their students and establishes meaningful and positive relationships. TEACHERS!!! Watch your thought, they become your words… Watch your words, they become your actions… Watch your actions, they become your habits… Watch your habits, they become your character… Watch your character, as it becomes your destiny. What is Communication & Why is it Important? Communication is the ability to share information with people and to understand what information and feelings are being conveyed by others. Communication can take many forms including: gestures, facial expressions, signs, vocalization (including tone and pitch), in addition to speech and written communication. It is via these cues that we know if someone understands what you are trying to convey, if one is interested in what you have to say, or if they are listening at all. Teachers on any given day WILL communicate extensively on campus, including paraprofessional staff, administrators, students, parents, community members, other teachers, etc. As a result of this, communication is essential for: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) Understanding roles and assignments Planning and carrying out activities Coordinating approaches to students Providing information to other teachers on student progress and behavior Building a positive relationship and interactions with students, teachers an other staff members Establishing your reputation Teachers should always work to establish good rapport and regular communication with colleagues and students. This rapport and communication is especially important when difficulties arise. Without effective communication and established positive rapport, conflicts between individuals on the campus can be destructive to the operation of a classroom and hinder learning – MAJOR MALFUNCTION OF EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE!!!! Responsiveness and sensitivity can open channels of communication between individuals on campus, and teachers need to deal openly with their feelings and attitudes towards their job responsibilities and duties. In order for teachers to get along with others and to become effective communicators and to meet the needs of their students, they MUST work together as a team to create a positive and least restrictive learning environment. Teachers must make efforts to communicate and coordinate necessary information to particular parties in order to air out any concerns they might have. Teachers must make efforts to communicate and coordinate necessary information to particular parties in order to air out any concerns they might have. Meeting as needed and as appropriate establishes and maintains open channels of commmunication. Open Lines of Communication are imperative in order to: Convey special interests, talents, trainings, or hobbies that will aid the teacher to better individualize communication with various parties and to improve instruction in the classroom 2) Reach an understanding of different backgrounds, experiences, values, cultures, religions, and other factors that might effect the teacher’s work relationships 1) 3) 4) Clarify tasks and to clear any possible misunderstandings that may have been interrupted. Ensure that there is ample time to and attention to express any concerns one might have and resolved them though compromise or intervention As a team, the educational staff needs to WORK TOGETHER to build TRUST in their working relationships. Just as important as communication skills are, listening skills are equally, if not, more important in the process of effective communication. IT MATTERS… What you – say, do think, feel, create, imagine… How you – love, give, receive, serve, play, communicate… That you – care, live, rest, laugh, risk, appreciate… PROMOTING COMMUNICATION Effective and open communication promotes an awareness of others interests and needs. Being aware of the necessary skills that will encourage open communication is imperative when working with others. Communication can be positively promoted by understanding some roadblocks to communication, use of accepting languages, and listening strategies. Each of these topics will relay information that will lead towards more positive interactions with others. The 12 roadblocks – Thomas Gordon – There are thousands of messages that we send to students by HOW we communicate. The 12 roadblocks tend to slow or completely stop existing communication that students need to solve problems and learn successfully. Responses that communicate unacceptance in negative connotations: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Ordering, commanding directing Warning, threatening Moralizing, preaching, giving “shoulds’” and “oughts’” Advising, offering solutions, & suggestions Lecturing, monologue with intent to demoralize Responses that tend to communicate inadequacies & fault: Judging, criticizing, disagreeing, blaming 2) Name calling, stereotyping, labeling 3) Interpreting, analyzing, diagnosing 1) Other messages that try to make the student feel better or deny there is a problem: 1) 2) Praising, agreeing with sarcasm Reassuring, sympathizing, consoling without sincerity This response tends to try to solve the problem for the student: 1) Questioning, probing, interrogating, cross examining This message tends to divert the student or avoid the student altogether: 1) Withdrawing, distracting, being sarcastic, humoring, diverting Many people are unaware that they respond to students in one of these 12 ways. As a result, it is important that we know alternative ways of responding. Many of the above responses have HIDDEN MESSAGES when the student hears the. They may hear you saying that they are to blame or that they can’t do anything right when you intention for the message was quite different. ACTIVE LISTENING As an alternative to the roadblocks mentioned, T. Gordon suggests the use of ACTIVE LISTENING to promote communication. Communication has several avenues that can get crossed if the speaker is not clear with the message or the listener decodes it incorrectly. When we use our OWN words to repeat back what we think the student or individual has just communicated, we are clarifying the message. This “feedback” is called ACTIVE LISTENING: Example: S – “ I don’t like this school as much as my old one. People are not very nice.” T – “ You are unhappy at this school?” S – “Yeah. I haven’t made any good friends. No one includes me.” T – “You feel left out?” S – “Yeah. I wish I knew more people.” In this situation the teacher is verbalizing what he/she thinks the student is saying. This lets the student affirm what the teacher said or explain the meaning in a different way. Active listening is a powerful tool, which helps the educator communicate more productively with the student. It also helps the educator to more fully understand what the student is saying and also helps the student to articulate their concerns. The time it takes to learn and use active listening provides a number of benefits. Active listening: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) Helps the student deal with and “defuse” strong feelings Helps students understand their own emotions Facilitates problem solving Keeps the responsibility with the child Makes the student more willing to listen to others Promotes a closer, more meaningful, relationship b/w the T and S or individual FROM LISTENING COMES WISDOM, AND FROM SPEAKING… REPENTANCE. - Italian Proverb FACTORS EFFECTING LISTENING Being aware of the different factors involved in listening will aid in the process of communication. We need to concentrate on not only encouraging our students, but ourselves, to exhibit good listening skills, behaviors, and strategies. Listening: Is a process that involves actively hearing what another person is communicating and attending to that communication. It is how we receive the verbal portion of a person’s message. By listening we can show care and concern and interest in understanding both the person and the situation. Listening can be affected by personal bias, environmental factors, a short attention span, rehearsing a response, daydreaming, hot words, and the use of filtering. BIAS: Personal prejudice can effect how we listen and perceive what a speaker is saying. Anger can also cause distortion of the message. As good communicators, personal bias and anger MUST be put aside in order to interpret the message. “No one wins an argument” on the contrary – the T always looses. Avoid bias by: Being willing to listen to new ideas 2) Make eye contact at all times 3) Use non-verbal communication of acknowledgement 4) Show interest and acceptance – even though you disagree with them promotes mutual respect for one another 1) ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS: Such as noise, temperature, and uncomfortable seating cause us to focus our attention on other factors besides what the speaker is saying. Try to control environmental factors whenever possible, as we all know how hard it is to focus our attention when distracted by outside forces. SHORT ATTENTION SPANS: As we receive a message, we must attend to it or we will lose it. To focus better, try the following: - Take notes as the speaker talks - Use a cue to help you remember what you were going to say - Concentrate with focus on the speaker and rehearse how you will answer - Ask questions to stay involved in the conversation - Concentrate on the conversation to ensure that the information received is accurate and indicates that you are interested in what the speaker is saying REHEARSING A RESPONSE: Many times we catch the drift of what the speaker is saying and we begin to rehearse a response, thereby missing parts of the message. Other times we may be anticipating our turn to speak and will spend time mentally or physically reviewing notes and will miss what the speaker has said. DAYDREAMING: We are capable of receiving and processing information more rapidly than a speaker can deliver it. This causes us to have spare time to think or daydream, and if we don't concentrate on the message being delivered, we will find ourselves drifting or daydreaming. HOT WORDS: We all have certain words that we react to such as, pay raise, punishment, congratulations, etc. Sometimes when a speaker uses a hot word in his/her speech we will concentrate more on the words meaning or implication for us, thus lose sight of what is being said. FILTERING: Many times you will be asked to attend a seminar where we exhibit little or no interest in the topic. As listeners, we tend to get an overview of what is going to be presented and then simply tune the rest out. Communicating With Students A. Talking With Students: It is important that when we talk to students, we are engaging in certain behaviors that facilitate openness and acceptance. When we actively use the recommendations listed below, students tend to be more receptive to listening and communicating with us. Here are some suggestions to use while communicating with students: 1) POSTURE: Try to make your posture mirror that of the students. It is helpful to have your shoulders squared with the student's and on the same level so you are face to face. It is also helpful to have a slightly forward lean toward the student. 2) EYE CONTACT: Eye contact with students shows that you are interested in what they have to say. 3) FACIAL EXPRESSION: What is shown on your face should match what is on the child's. Smiling when the child is obviously sad would be inappropriate. 4) DISTANCE: Distance from the student should not be too distant or too close - 3 to 4 feet is appropriate. Too close and the student may feel uncomfortable, too distant they may feel you are disinterested in what they are saying. 5) DISTRACTING BEHAVIORS: Behaviors such as playing with your hands, staring out the window, or doing something else while listening should be eliminated when talking to students or staff members. 6) VOICE QUALITY: Your tone should match the child's. It would be inappropriate to be loud if the child is in a quiet mood, and vice versa. A few more helpful hints: Establish a positive relationship with your students. Focus on respect, courtesy and equity. Our job is to encourage students, not control them Be positive in your words and mannerisms while speaking to students, avoid putting them down When possible organize ahead of time and think before speaking Always address your students by name When giving directions, get students attention first Speak in a calm manner Maintain eye contact with students and class Minimize distractions Let them know why the topic is important Let them know you are talking to them for their benefit Use questions to involve the student and monitor understanding Include examples from the student's experiences Avoid discussing a student's personal problems when you feel uncomfortable about it. If frustration, anger or boredom occur, stop. Reinforce and support students for listening. B. Accepting Language: Acceptance of another is an important factor in fostering a relationship where a person can grow and actualize their full potential. At times, young people become what adults around them continuously tell them they are. A language of acceptance can open kids up and make them feel more comfortable and at ease. When they know we will accept them no matter what they tell us, we are more likely to see student growth and maturity. When we communicate in an accepting way, we are using a tool that can facilitate positive effects in our students. " Talk can cure, and talk can foster constructive change. But it must be the right kind of talk.“ - Thomas Gordon, T.E.T C. Initiating and Directing Student Responses: As educators, we ask students questions on a daily basis every period. As with any form of communication, the way the question is phrased will affect the quality and type of answer we will receive. The purpose of asking questions is to gain information from others. Informative questions usually asked in the classroom instruction and assessments are usually CLOSED-ENDED question of the interrogative type, i.e. the question requires a specific answer (L.O.T.S.). Teachers should utilize to the best of their ability, questions that encourage thought and opinion, OPEN-ENDED questions. These types of questions usually indicate to the student to express a whole range of thoughts. (H.0.T.S.) (The 4 W's) In order to effectively ask questions of students, the following suggestions are listed: Pause before and after asking a question. Pausing gives you time to properly phrase the question and the student time to think about their response. Monitor the questions you ask, review them to ensure open-ended questions are most often asked. Ask meaningful questions, monitor how many questions you ask. Could you make questioning more effective if you asked less questions, more questions, or different types of questions? Always check for student understanding. To check this, ask the student to repeat directions, questions, or summarize what was said. MASTERY!!! By becoming a more effective questioner, you are providing opportunities for students to more openly respond and relay thoughts, be actively involved in the learning process, and be more reflective. Effective Communication With Parents: Teachers can and MUST establish rapport with parents, as they can be the ones to cause a teacher extreme hardship. Rapport is established through effective and consistent communication. Developing a parental partnership takes two, so parents also need to work on their skills. Many times parents blame the teacher for their child's faults and subsequently act and behave, as well as communicate, in a manner that is not conducive to cooperation. BE READY!!! Effective communication takes time, is honest, and is open. Good communicators listen, rephrase and avoid criticizing and acting superior. Please remember to never take what a parent says personally, and be cautious, for it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Teachers Who Are Good Communicators: Give their total attention to the speaker. Establish eye contact and clearly demonstrate by body language that their interest is focused on what is being said. Restate the parents concerns. Clarify what has been said and try to discern the speaker's meaning and feelings. Avoid closed responses or answering as a critic judge or moralist. Show and maintain respect for the other void closed responses or answering as a critic judge or moralist. Show and maintain respect for the other person at all times. Recognize their concerns, opinions, and questions are significant to mutual understanding and communication. Recognize the parent's feelings. How much can you discuss with the parent? Tailor discussions to fit the parent's ability to handle the situation. DO NOT touch off the fuse of a parent who might not be able to handle a child's difficulties. Emphasize that concerns are no one's fault. Teacher and parent have to work the problem together to help the child. Use concerns as forums for understanding one another. Remember that NO ONE wins an argument. Calmly, quietly, enthusiastically discuss the good points of the child before you bring up concerns. Protect the parents' ego. Don't blame or make the parents believe that they are to blame for their child's deficiencies. Focus on plans for the future. Focus on one issue at a time. Be specific about the child's progress or other concerns. LISTEN. Hear the feeling and meaning of each message. Rephrase and check out the message to be sure that you received it correctly. When efforts to contact parents for student concerns fail or interactions with particular parents are nonpositive, advise administration immediately. This goes for any parental behavior or communication that may interfere with the school and classroom environment, especially with regards to threats, parental child abuse, and retaliations. Staff Relationships & Teaming: Teachers are the lifeblood of a campus and are the most integral part of the school environment. Teacher must realize, however, that they are part of a team and that every individual on campus is equally valuable. Working as a team requires frequent and open communication between the teacher, para-educator staff, administration, counselors, facilitators, and teacher colleagues with the common goal of improving instruction. To mention a few, horizontal and vertical alignment teacher meetings, academic team meetings, department/department chair meetings, SBDM Meetings, Faculty meetings, conferences, referrals, CAISAP meetings, campus staff and professional development, grade level meetings, PTA Meetings, and the like. School staffs are made up of many individuals with different working styles, management styles, cultural differences and communication styles. No matter these differences, a team should demonstrate mutual respect and good will for one another, as well as towards the students. To promote a sense of campus camaraderie, the teacher should: Ask questions frequently and as needed. There is no such thing as a stupid question…only the one you don’t ask. Attend all meetings as required, go with your colleagues and remind them of meetings as needed. Compliment each other about work that is well done. (positive praise and encouragement) Do not take each other for granted. Show a sincere interest in one another's work. Adhere to the teachers standards of classroom behavior and code of ethics. Be loyal to teachers, students, administrators, and para-educators. GOSSIP WILL KILL !!! You will be known more for your reputation by what people say of you. Make sure they can only say positive things. Always discuss problems with appropriate personnel in a timely fashion. Always have an open door policy with regards to your social interactions on campus. Always have time for any situation and any person who needs to talk with you. Offer your services as needed. Know and observe the school rules, enforce them, and meet all required deadlines and policies. (grade books, write ups, reminder notices, lesson plan books, grievances, etc.) Avoid criticizing other people on campus, especially other teachers (and your administrators ). Develop a friendly attitude, and have humor. Know your campus personnel, their location, those who are in direct contact and coordination with you either by department or grade. Learn their names, make a personnel list as necessary. Be aware of the F.E.R.P.A. law and be sure to follow it strictly to avoid litigation or student privacy violations. Have fun with teaching, work together, never bring outside issues into the classroom, have passion…enjoy your students and your job! LIFE IS TOO SHORT !!! GOOD LUCK!!!
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