Improving Communication Skills

Communication skills are key to effective teaching. Having developed communication skills are as important as the educators’ in-depth knowledge of the subject they teach. In order to communicate effectively with their students, educators must be engaging and communicate in a way that students find meaningful. Since students have different subject preferences, it is the teacher’s job to help create enthusiasm and interest in the minds of students towards the subject they are learning. With open communication, students will have an easier time overcoming the fear of asking questions and voicing their opinions. Teachers can encourage students to communicate openly by cultivating dialogues, debates and group discussions. Teachers must use empathic, non-judgmental listening skills effectively to help students feel comfortable enough to express their concerns and feelings in the classroom. Students need to feel cared for, respected and accepted. The teacher must also confirm that students have been heard and acknowledge their perspective during discussions. This can be done in part by attempting to understand the verbal and non-verbal messages conveyed by students. Cultural differences regarding communication are critical factors to keep in mind when speaking to students. To bridge any culturally significant gaps between the teacher and students, the teacher can learn about their students’ different cultures and specifically, about the communication style of his/her students. Getting to know students, parents and understanding the social factors that influence their lives enhances the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with them. Positive motivation and giving clear, concise and focused feedback to students are also important skills for the teacher to bring to the classroom. To ensure that students understand the material being presented to them, educators can use questioning techniques to elicit students’ thoughts, feelings and opinions about subject matter. This technique helps the educator better understand how students absorb and integrate the materials and

lessons they present. Clear, specific feedback from teachers also enables students to take responsibility for their success. There are multiple ways teachers can communicate with students. Non- verbal messages are an essential part of communication in the teaching process. Teachers communicate numerous messages by eye contact, smiling, gestures, posture and body orientation, proximity, paralinguistic’s and humor. These behaviors help regulate the flow of interpersonal communication skills. Another component of effective communication is making a good first impression. Since a first impression is often made in the first few seconds of meeting someone, it is important to carry yourself with poise and confidence. In the beginning of the school year, educators can benefit from analyzing how they conduct themselves, how they use body language and the manner in which they dress. Sending out body signals that correlate with your intended message can aid the educator in getting off to a good start and sending clear messages to students. Equipping students with effective communication skills gives them “real life” skills that are essential for them to have in the job market. In a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than fifty thousand employees, communication skills were cited as the single most important decisive factor in choosing managers. Without the ability to communicate well, students are disadvantaged in pursuing their intended careers. There are many different challenges in trying to effectively communicate. Since misunderstanding and confusion can happen during the process of getting your message across, it is helpful to have well-planned, clear and concise information. Distortion can occur when trying to both send and receive messages so it is important to be clear when communicating and also to receive the information of others in the manner in which they intend it. There are three main components to effective communication: understanding what your message is, who your audience is and how they

will interpret the information you are communicating. Communication is only successful when both the sender and receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication. One effective way of improving communication skills in the classroom is to use ice-breaking activities. Ice-breaking activities can open up lines of communication and help students to understand how they are interconnected. If ice-breaking activities are well-designed and well-facilitated they can help students to break cultural barriers in the classroom by giving students insight into the unique cultural backgrounds of others. Unforgettable delivery should be the goal of educators when presenting lessons in the classroom. When a speaker fine tunes their content, communication and delivery so that it flows smoothly and engages an audience it is more likely to stick with them long after a presentation is over. Knowledge retention is a main component to meaningful learning and to strive for unforgettable delivery in the classroom should be on the forefront of focus when presenting information to students. Improving both teacher and student communication skills in the classroom helps to create a mutually beneficial community of learners, broadens cultural horizons and allows students to ask meaningful questions that aid in comprehension.

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