Improving Your Communication Skills

Having good communication skills is at the heart of being an effective teacher.

Goldstein and Brooks Ten Steps to Effective Communication
1. Begin on the first day of school: set guidelines and opportunities for students to communicate 2. Be proactive: schedule communication time (e.g. office hours, appointments etc.). 3. Become an active listener: understand the verbal/non-verbal messages conveyed by your students

4. Make sure you say, I heard you : validate what students say and confirm they have been heard 5. Do unto others: be empathic and engage in discussions with students 6. Use non-judgmental and non-accusatory communication: minimize accusatory messages like Try harder and You could do better if you wanted to ‡ Choose an alternative to possibly judgmental comments

7. Communicate clearly and briefly: keep it short, simple and focused 8. Serve as a model of honesty and dignity 9. Accept repetition 10. Make humor an integral part of your Communication

Identifying and Defining Good Communication
‡ Plan Your Message: figure out what you want to say and why ‡ Understand Your Objective ‡ Who is Your Audience? ‡ Use KISS ( Keep It Simple and Straightforward ) principle ‡ Encoding- Create a Clear, Well-Crafted Message (how you will say it) and consider the other person s perspective

Steps of the Communication Process
Anticipate the other person s reaction to your message ‡Choosing the Right Channel: communicate face to face, by phone, e-mails ‡Decoding-Receiving and Interpreting a Message: be an active, empathic listener ‡Feedback: ask questions and listen carefully ‡Use of body language (facial expressions, gestures and the posture of the person you are speaking to can give clues as to how they are receiving you) ‡Give specific, clear, descriptive verbal or written feedback

How is it Used?
‡Using culturally sensitive communication ‡Self-knowledge on the teacher s part about second language experience and how it is connected to teaching minority students ‡Knowledge about your own particular students ‡Continuing teacher- parent communication ‡Keeping parents informed: sharing information on regular basis and presenting information in a calm, professional manner when dealing with parents criticisms and confrontation

Steps for Implementation: How to Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills
1. Stay Focused 6. Use I Messages 7. Look For Compromises 8. Take a Time-Out if You Need One 9. Don t Give Up if You Aren t Successful the First Time 10. Ask for Help if You Need it

2. Listen Carefully 3. Try and See the Point of View of the Person you are Speaking With 4. Respond to Criticism With Empathy 5. Own What s Yours

Advantages and Disadvantages:
Disadvantage: Making a good first impression usually takes place in just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed. You are at a disadvantage if you don t carry yourself in a manner that gives off a good first impression.

Advantages and Disadvantages:
Advantage: In a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than 50,000 employees, communication skills were cited as the single most important decisive factor in choosing managers.

The survey, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh s Katz Business School, points out that communication skills, including written and oral presentations, as well as an ability to work with others, are the main factor s in contributing to job success.

How Does it Work?
‡ Problems can arise when trying to effectively communicate.

To be an effective communicator and to get your point across without misunderstanding and confusion, your goal should be to lessen the frequency of problems that may arise with clear, concise, accurate, well-planned communications.

‡ Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It's also about receiving information that others are sending to you, with as little distortion as possible.

How Does it Work?
‡ To communicate effectively, you must understand what your message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will be perceived. You must also weigh-in the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as situational and cultural context. ‡ As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why you're communicating, and what you want to communicate. You also need to be confident that the information you're communicating is useful and accurate.

Does it Work?
‡ Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication. ‡ In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively whether in verbal or written format. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to compete effectively in the workplace, and stands in the way of career progression.

How Can You Bring it to the Classroom?
‡ Icebreaking activities can be an effective way of getting everyone to contribute to classroom communication. ‡ If an ice breaker session is well-designed and wellfacilitated, it can really help get things off to a great start. ‡ As a facilitator, the secret of a successful icebreaking session is to keep it simple: Design the session with specific objectives in mind and make sure the session is appropriate and comfortable for everyone involved.


Resources: Goldstein and Brooks Ten Steps to Effective Communication
. Vern Jones & Louise Jones Comprehensive Classroom Management -9th