By Teachers, For Teachers
Do you ever wish that your students would listen more intently and communicate more clearly? You’re not alone. The majority of teachers struggle daily with this issue in their classroom. Communication is an important life skill, and one that students need to learn and use properly. For many children, communication just means talking to someone and having a conversation with them. However, it’s more than just talking, it’s actually listening and really hearing what the speaker is trying to say. It’s using your body language to express yourself, it’s knowing when to listen and respond, as well as when to ask clarifying questions. Communication is the key to navigating our way through life. It’s also an important life skill that we can teach our youth to ensure they become better communicators. Here are 5 simple classroom management habits that can you teach students to do daily to help them learn to listen and communicate more clearly.
Listening is the key to effective communication. If you really want your students to be able to communicate better with others, then you must show them how to actively and reflectively listen. Active listening requires that the listener is giving the speaker their full attention by using their body language (a head nod) or verbal cues (“Mmm-hmm”) to ensure to the speaker they understand what they are saying. While reflective listening takes actively listening a step further, and requires the listener to mirror or paraphrase what the speaker has said without judgment, perspective, or opinion. Students can practice both of these techniques by role playing with a partner.
Have you ever noticed your body language when you are listening or speaking with someone? Your body language plays an important role in the way that you communicate. It’s said that our body language plays a bigger role in how we communicate than the verbal language that we speak. To help students understand the role their bodies play in the way that they communicate, have them watch any video with people talking in it. Ask them to observe the peoples’ bodies while they are talking. Are their arms folded? Are they making eye contact? How close are the standing to one another? These are a just a few questions you can ask students to get them thinking. Then you can talk about how a smile, head nod, or leaning in close are all great ways to use their bodies to have positive interaction while they communicate with others.
Asking questions that clarify what the speaker has said is yet another positive habit that will help you communicate with others. To teach this concept to students, you can simply listen with intention as you speak. Then ask for volunteers to ask you questions about what you said that will help them better understand what they heard. It’s also important to note that students should understand that they should never interrupt a speaker and to just take a mental note of what they want to ask, then wait to the person is finished speaking before asking it.
Have you ever heard of the expression “Say what you mean and mean what you say”? This saying goes well when it comes to communication. The last thing a speaker wants is to mislead the listener. Essentially, it means to not beat around the bush and just say what you mean. A good example of miscommunication is texting. You’ve probably received a text and took it out of context, that’s because you weren’t in front of the person to see their expression, body language or tone of voice. All of these things help us to communicate more clearly. Teach students to say what they mean not what they think other people want to hear.
Lastly, a good communicator always acknowledges to the speaker that they understand by either verbally saying “I understand” or paraphrasing by saying “So you mean that …” They always do this before it’s their turn to speak. An easy way to teach this to children is to simply have them take turns practicing with a partner. One student would start a conversation while the other listened intently. Then, the listener would wait for the speaker to stop talking and acknowledge what they said before it was their turn.
While the majority of these habits may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at how often our brains will forget to do these tiny habits. For example, have you ever had your mind wander when someone was talking and you were supposed to be listening? While that’s quite normal, practicing these listening and communication habits will help that from happening.
Do you have any classroom management habits that help you communicate more clearly? Please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.