Teachers must communicate clearly, so students, parents and co-workers understand classroom goals and can work together to accomplish academic tasks. Educator communication skills have changed over time as technology has played a greater role in the classroom. Even though teachers still need strong verbal and nonverbal skills, they must also act as collaborators and coordinators. As an educator, you'll not only present lectures, you'll also find and organize educational materials that require technology. It's your job to guide classroom activities, so students understand what's expected and can successfully complete assignments.
Patient, Straightforward Directors
Students need teachers who patiently, yet firmly, explain guidelines, policies, expectations, requirements and objectives. Instructions must be clear and well-structured, so there's no confusion as to classroom rules or assignments. You must consistently teach core concepts and reinforce desired outcomes, so students accomplish their targeted goals for the year. Kindness, friendliness, fairness and respect are key elements to a successful and productive classroom. Make sure students understand your expectations and encourage them with positive remarks and helpful suggestions.
Teachers must use technology, such as computer software, online academic programs and Internet resources, to communicate requirements and explain academic concepts. Learning is much more than simply regurgitating textbook material. For example, you might use computer-based tutorials and instructional Web videos to supplement your lesson plans. You can also post electronic materials online, so students can access them at home or at school. You must have an organized, well-structured communication style, so students don't get confused or overwhelmed by the various forms of electronic instruction.
One of the best ways to help students with their overall classroom experience is to communicate with parents about assignments, special projects, grades and behavior issues. Parents can't get involved unless you keep them informed. You might send home a weekly classroom letter and briefly jot down a few handwritten notes on individual student copies. Or, you might call or meet with two or three parents every week, so you get a chance to spend one-on-one time with each student's parents during the quarter. Frequent, consistent communication is the best way to keep parents in the loop and build relationships with them.
Trainers by Example
Educators who teach by example are often powerful communicators. By using your manners, speaking to students politely and ensuring that all students are treated with respect, you create an orderly classroom. You can also help students with their academics, especially those that involve technology, by modeling what you want them to do. For example, you might show students how you designed your presentation on photosynthesis, created a slide show about World War I or crafted a graphic organizer to discuss William Shakespeare's various plays. Effective classroom management is all about setting a strong example and encouraging students to follow your lead.
Graders and Assessors
Teachers must monitor, report and discuss student progress. Effective communicators offer frequent, consistent tips as to how students might improve. For example, you might use skills-based software, rubrics or peer assessments to evaluate student performance on a weekly basis. Talk to students on an individual basis to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and suggest ideas for meeting competency requirements. Grading and assessing students is more than just typing letter grades in a spreadsheet. It's about taking the time to talk to students about their academic goals, achievements, successes and struggles.
- Teachers.Net Gazette: The Communication Skills Necessary for Effective Educators
- William & Mary: School of Education: Skills Related to Effective Interpersonal Communication
- University of Northern Colorado: School of Teacher Education: Classroom Management Guide
- The University of New Mexico: New Teacher and Student Roles in the Technology-Supported Classroom
- East Carolina University: Parental Involvement: From Communication to Conferences; Dr. Diana Lys
- Schenectady City Schools: How Winning Teachers Use Communication
- Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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