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Five Ways Teachers Can Help Their Students Better Communicate
Learning how to communicate effectively begins at birth. Babies receive their first cues from parents and other caregivers and then once grown into school-age children, they tumble into a vast, new arena, where communication skills will help determine their educational success.
Teachers assume the critical responsibility of helping children become more skilled listeners and talkers. A master’s degree in education can help prepare you for this challenging and rewarding assignment. MSEd courses like Creating an Effective Classroom Learning Environment provide teaching strategies that can lead to communication success.
Arriving at school, children bring nascent communication styles and a diverse range of learning behaviors and abilities. Teachers must take all this into account as they bring students together to form a class and a community.
“At any stage of this process things may go wrong, making the communication less effective,” explains Detlef R. Prozesky in the article “Communication and Effective Teaching.” “For instance, the sender may not express what s/he wants to say clearly; or the room may be noisy; or the receiver may not understand the words the sender is using. To be effective, teachers have to try to minimize these barriers to communication.”1
Here are five ways you can break down barriers to help students to communicate more effectively:
1. Listen and Learn
Listening—really hearing what another person is saying—can be the hardest part of communicating, especially for enthusiastic youngsters. While there are different listening styles—active, reflective, empathic—all require the listener to give his or her complete attention to the speaker. To practice this skill, pair your students up and have one tell the other a very short fact or story about a favorite pet, hobby, or food. At the end, have the listener briefly recap what he or she heard. This can also be done in small groups or with the entire class. Be mindful, of course, of your students’ individual learning and social needs when planning this or any other activity.
2. Time to Talk
Some of us may be born with the gift of gab, but most of us learn how to be good conversationalists through practice and experience. Work with your students to practice the different components of good conversation: selecting interesting, timely, or important information to convey; being expressive; inviting others to join the discussion by asking questions; and practicing brevity. Children may enjoy using a talking stick or similar object to exercise self-control. The student who holds the stick may speak, but everyone else must be quiet. When the speaker is finished, she passes it to the next speaker, and the cycle continues.
3. Learn Body Language
“This kind of communication is usually subconscious—we use it without thinking about it; that is why we say that ‘it is difficult to lie in body language,’ ” Prozesky writes. “If teachers really attend to the body language of their students, they will know when they are bored or confused. From the body language of their teachers, students pick up whether they are confident and enthusiastic.”1
Demonstrate examples of nonverbal communication—frowning, smiling, eye-rolling, shoulder shrugging, and arm-folding, for instance—and ask students to describe what the actions convey to them. This can lead to a discussion about how body language can enhance or confuse a message we think we’re sending.
4. Teach R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Declare your classroom a snark-free zone. Discourage sarcasm. Encourage children to put together original phrases rather than relying on popular TV and movie catchphrases—though the occasional, self-deprecating “D’oh!” might be OK. If students make negative comments about classmates or use name-calling, teach them how they can appropriately express their feelings without being hurtful.
5. Be a Model
Show and tell. Make sure your students see you actively using the communication practices you’re trying to instill in them. If they witness you responding angrily to a student or cutting off a colleague in a conversation, it may undercut what you’re teaching students about effective speaking and listening techniques.
Expand Your Knowledge With an MS in Education
You can enhance your ability to communicate and lead in the classroom with the knowledge and skills you’ll gain from an online master’s in education. Walden University’s Master of Science in Education degree program offers 14 specializations, including a self-designed option that allows you to individualize your studies further.
One of the top advantages of obtaining an advanced degree from an accredited online university is the flexibility it provides adult learners. As a professional, you can continue your rewarding work in education while earning a teaching degree at the same time. And because time is precious, Walden offers six master’s in education specializations in an accelerated format, so you may earn a degree in as little as 12 months.
An MS in Education can put you on track to becoming a more effective teacher in your classroom or propel you toward careers such as administrator or STEM expert. There’s an online teaching degree for every goal and ambition. Find your MSEd degree program and get started down the path to career enrichment and growth.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education degree program with 14 specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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