Effective Communication in the Classroom
Good communication skills are imperative if you are to deal successfully with the administrators, teachers, and service personnel on your school campus—in both formal meetings and informal interactions.
- Assume the best of everyone.
- Operate with the assumption that everyone has the students’ best interests in mind.
- Remember that effective communication is the key to having your suggestions and ideas heard and taken seriously.
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Take time to say “hello,” and listen to others as much as possible.
- Practice empathy and understanding.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Body language—a person’s stance and presence—speaks volumes, even if not a word is spoken.
- Determine whether your body language is in sync with your message.
- Make sure that your nonverbal signals match your words, so that you communicate clearly and are perceived as being approachable.
- Present yourself so that your posture communicates confidence, rather than making you appear unsure of yourself.
- Keep in mind that different people may perceive you differently: Your body language may be perceived differently by men and women, or by different cultural groups.
- Practice eye contact.
- Analyze your physical proximity to the person you are talking with, how your arms are positioned, and the way your facial features convey what you are thinking.
- Try to stay neutral in professional conversations.
Interactions that are unassuming and clearly understood will be perceived as positive communication.
- Assume a neutral frame of reference when you go into a meeting.
- Don’t form an opinion or frame a response before you hear from all of the participants in a meeting (potentially every member of the grade-level team, the parents, the administrators, and the support staff).
- Listen carefully. Misunderstandings usually occur when we don’t listen.
- Respond with a coherent, quick, informed, and honest reply.
- Avoid speaking in a negative tone of voice. Speak so as to have your ideas acknowledged, rather than disregarded because of a negative attitude.
- Be open to learning. No one enjoys a “know-it-all.”
When in doubt, ask!
- Ask about something that you don’t understand, or at least make a note about it so you can ask later.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for explanations, descriptions, and definitions, or about scenarios being discussed.
- If you ask your question politely, no one will take offense. People will appreciate your interest, and your question will remind them to use teacher-friendly language.
It is good to show consideration for others in a meeting by having everything you need with you and ready to use.
- Demonstrate your professionalism by being thoroughly prepared for a meeting.
- Prepare a list of questions or comments you want to address in advance. Include problems that need to be discussed and situations you need to have clarified.
- Come to meetings with all the materials you might need, so that the group can adhere to the agenda.
Being on Time
Being on time for a meeting allows all participants to be productive and efficient.
- Be on time for all meetings, even if you have to interrupt what you are doing to get there. (An exception might be if a parent has come to see you.)
- Remember that if you are running late, you should excuse yourself to alert whoever is expecting you that you will not arrive on time.
- Realize that because schools run on tight schedules, starting a meeting just five minutes late can throw it into a tailspin, since people may feel the need to rush through it. This is especially true for before-school meetings.
- Avoid causing hard feelings with other people (for example, administrators or fellow teachers), because your late arrival holds up a decision or causes someone else to run late.