July 27, 2020 0 Comments
Effective Communication in Education: Improving Teacher/Learner Experience
Effective Communication is an important tool in communication. Not only do we want to just speak or in the case of Education, teach/lecture, we would also love to be duly understood, intended message be received and instructions effectively carried out by the receiver. Also, effective communication is more than just exchanging information; it encompasses understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information.
Communication is the most important social tool thus it must be done right. Education has also been an important part of any society, it is no surprise the need for communication to be fully maximised in the educational sector. Teaching delves deeper than just creating educative content materials and resources but also the appropriate delivery of content to the learners. Research has it that, a well-delivered speech void of visual/graphic images can leave a longer impression than one comprising of varying graphic contents but delivered poorly.
This article would focus on how teachers can communicate with students/learners, deliver lessons in an impactful manner, how to set-up and manage the classroom to maximize learning.
Classroom Management Techniques
A classroom isn’t just a physical or virtual space where content and information is transferred from a teacher to her students. It’s also a space where children experience some of their most influential formative moments; they form and nurture potentially lasting friendships, and also learn social and civic responsibilities. How a teacher manages this space and the time children spend in it has a profound impact on all of these elements. Teachers should aim to make this space a safe, joyful place that students are excited to come into, and at the same time fosters curiosity and learning.
Teachers mindful of these factors take a lot of care in curating artefacts that go into a classroom (posters, charts, instruments, videos, etc) and plan how students interact with these objects. Be it the seating arrangements, how students move and interact with each other and the teacher during lessons (and even during breaks) or how they handle educational equipment not just decides the effectiveness of instruction but has deeper implications on how children learn to use and respect resources.
Since time is always of the essence, an effective classroom management system (which is built into the lesson plan) is aimed at maximising students’ interaction with the coursework (effective learning time).
- What rules and procedures should be put in place to foster group work that does not hamper learning?
- What mechanisms allow students to express their opinions, show their work and ask questions without being disruptive?
- How will you foster collaboration and teamwork within and outside the classroom?
Crucial variable teachers need to account for is students’ behaviour. Students don’t always follow the rules and procedures laid down. What are the techniques you can use to minimise transgressions and distractions? And if students do get distracted or behave in a manner that is not in line with the class rules, what procedures are put in place to ensure students concerns are addressed in a manner that does not affect the entire class and also, most importantly, is done consistently, dignified (not detrimental to physical, mental or emotional well-being) and constructive?
Delivery of Content (Including contextualization, involvement, pace & individual attention)
Developing great lesson plans is only a part of what teachers do to ensure that students have rich and effective learning experiences. A lesson only really comes alive in the classroom and in the manner in which the idea/theory/concept (content) is presented (delivery) by the teacher and how the learners engage with and react to it.
To ensure that learning outcomes are achieved and sustained, teachers should ponder over questions such as: What examples should I use so that students can relate to the content (contextualisation)? What is it that students know from their own experiences and lives that can help them make connections with the material (real-life scenarios)?
As all teachers know, a classroom is rarely ever homogenous. Students have different personalities, interests, means of expressing themselves, learning and developmental needs.
This diversity is something a teacher should think about while planning the delivery. What range of activities (individual/group), models (pictures/artefacts/video/audio) and modes (written, oral, pictorial, and multimedia) can be introduced into the learning pattern/system? Also, ensuring that every student gets an opportunity to access the content and express their understanding.
Another factor that enables effective involvement and ensure students feel comfortable is when the teacher speeds up or slows down the pace of the lesson based on general class or individual learner’s reaction. Some of these can be pre-planned when the teacher knows the students’ needs and interests. There will also be instances when the teacher may need to make these judgement calls (should I slow down? who should I ask this question? how should the student respond – in writing/verbally?) during delivery.
Basic Communication Skills
How you communicate with your students goes a long way in shaping not just their communication abilities but also the general outlook and manner in which they interact with people. Students, especially younger students, learn by imitation. Therefore, teachers need to make use of correct grammatical constructs, pronunciation and diction while speaking; also be aware of broader implications of the language. Concerns like, am I making use of age-appropriate language, is my message comprehensible? Factors like how a teacher speaks (vocabulary, tone) and what she speaks about are immensely influential on students.
A teacher’s voice is one of her most powerful tools; it can help set the mood of the classroom. While conducting a lesson or in basic communication with learners, teachers should ponder on questions such as: do I use the right tone when speaking to the students? do the way I speak generate interest in students, hold them captive and arouse curiosity? am I varying the loudness and pitch (modulation) to convey different moods and also to elicit different responses from my students? The ability to meet all these requirements suggests effective communication.
One of the key aspects of effective communication is clarity (in speech and writing). Effective communication in Education is not limited to the classroom only; teachers also need to communicate with parents, colleagues and other stakeholders. Whether in the class or out of the classroom setting, it is important to ensure that
- what you write or say to learners/parents/colleagues/parents/stakeholders is clear (coherence),
- your message is void of ambiguities and/or confusion (cohesion),
- your message has a logical flow and is easy to follow (structure),
- the message is effective, constructive and relevant to the discussion (manner),
- the language you use is culture-sensitive, socially acceptable especially while addressing a diverse audience who may have different backgrounds, needs or outlooks (sensitivity).