In the Workplace
What communication skills do teachers need to contribute to a positive school culture?
Excellent teachers are highly skilled in written, verbal, organizational and interpersonal communication. Teaching is all about communication - listening, speaking, reading, presenting and writing. Teachers who have excellent communication skills are able to instruct, advise and mentor students in their care. Teachers must communicate well to effectively collaborate with colleagues and update administrators on student progress. Teachers must be very good at answering questions verbally and in writing when communicating with families who visit, call or email.
Teaching Individuals and Groups
- Communication is a two-way street; teachers must be skilled at listening to their students as well as explaining things clearly.
- Teachers need to be clear when presenting material. They must be able to break down complex ideas into simpler parts and smaller steps to transmit to their students.
- Teachers must be able to adapt their methods of communication to all students regardless of ability or learning style.
- Teachers communicate concern and caring by their tone of voice and use of body language.
- Good teachers care about their students' progress and let their students know it at all times.
- They get to know their students' hopes, fears and preferences and communicate this knowledge to their students.
- They communicate their appreciation for what their students do by celebrating their successes and constantly encouraging them. This helps students feel recognized and validated.
Communicating with Families
- Teachers must be able to express themselves both verbally and in writing in order to report student progress to parents.
- They need to explain the strengths and weaknesses of their students so that families will understand the message and be receptive rather than defensive.
- When teachers convey a difficult message about a student's misbehavior or learning problems, the message must be delivered clearly and with tact.
- Teachers must be comfortable communicating regularly with families with phone calls and informal notes in addition to formal report cards.
Interacting with Colleagues and Supervisors
- Good teaching involves consultation with colleagues. Schools that see themselves as professional learning communities encourage teachers to plan lessons together and learn from one another.
- Teachers need to take a team approach when problem-solving, especially for difficult students.
- Teachers stay aware of new developments in education by reading journals, listening to new ideas from their administrators and school district consultants, and sharing and discussing these ideas with colleagues.
You might want to take a workplace communication course at ISANS. (See Module 8 for Supports & Resources)