Shaping an environment where students take an active part in discussions may be a tall order; however, it is the key to effective education. Creating and sustaining favorable conditions, in which learners can grow and conquer new peaks, is impossible without good communication.
It is critically important to establish vivid communication between students from the very beginning. The communication skills they get in the classroom are fully applicable for their real-life situations and are often the key benefit in many contexts they may find themselves in. Moreover, it is a scientifically-proven fact that trust-based relationships between a teacher and a student have a direct positive influence over student’s academic performance and their overall engagement in the learning process.
Through communication, students share their thoughts and ideas, often fall into disputes trying to find the grain of truth. It is the teacher’s responsibility to uphold such an environment where students can freely engage themselves in discussions and ask questions openly without fear of being judged or reproached. No less crucial is it to teach them to be polite towards each other, treat different opinions with respect, and recognize when they are wrong.
Poor communication often brings students to loss of motivation and inertia in learning. Many studies show that the way the teacher arranges communication in the class is directly correlated with student advancement. That is why fostering good communication experiences in the classroom is so crucial. Here are 5 tips on how to do it.
Build a Safe Environment
Put effort to create a positive atmosphere of trust and understanding where students can feel comfortable to share what comes to their mind. Explain that having a different opinion is normal and engage students in expressing their so diverse thoughts. Encouraging students into disputes is a great way to train their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as persuasiveness in general. At this point, however, it is important to teach them to keep a level head and show respect to their opponent.
A safe and free space where students are not afraid to ask questions, make mistakes, or accept help is essential for their successful performance. The policy of non-judgment should be at the helm of both teacher-student and student-student relationships in the classroom. A great way to facilitate student dialogue is to allow them to pop in the conversation and talk openly throughout the lesson.
Encourage Group Activities
Truth is born in the argument. However, it is equally important to have good team-working skills. Employees prefer team-players more than outsiders, regardless of the high qualification of the latter ones. Involving students in teamwork and group activities is a smart way to shift their focus from competing with each other to working as one to achieve the best results. Such activities promote cooperation, collaboration, and effective communication in the group, giving young learners a practical skill transferrable to their future career life.
Don’t Ignore Shy Students
There is always at least one shy student in the class. No matter how tempting may it be to leave them alone and focus on the most talkative and active students, it is impossible to build good communication and a friendly atmosphere in the classroom if the outsiders are ignored. Introversive as they may be, usually such students refuse to participate in classroom talks. Don’t push them hard. A one-on-one conversation before or after the class may be a good starting point to establish trustful teacher-student interaction and let them feel safe in the classroom.
Learn to Hear Your Students
As a teacher, you are supposed to prepare students for their future career and life as a decent person. It goes far beyond being a walking encyclopedia. Hearing your students plays a far greater role than many educators give it a credit. Often, it is enough just to lend your ear and an outstanding idea pops up in a student’s brain. One way or another, students may need some clarification regarding the assignment or your take on the thought they came up with. Listening to your students’ needs and being supportive enables you to provide necessary assistance and high-quality teaching.
Feedback from the teacher plays a key role in the student’s performance and growth. It helps to identify strong and weak points and build an effective learning strategy for future advancement. Positive and negative feedback is equally important. While the latter one draws student’s attention to their mistakes and helps to improve, it is the praise that contributes to building confidence and staying motivated throughout the learning process. Studies have shown that students praised for their achievements are more likely to take challenging tasks and believe in their success. And “praise for achievements” is the core idea here.
According to Carol S. Dweck, an American psychologist, it is vitally important to value student’s efforts and hard work over their inborn talents. Only in doing so, we can help students to develop a growth mindset, i.e. that their work and persistence bring them to success. Teachers who focus on the student’s sense of purpose and the amount of word done help them to think big, avoid hanging back before obstacles, and see their own mistakes as room for improvement. In doing so, they ensure a friendly environment in the classroom where everyone is devoted to doing their best.
April Knope, a Ph.D. in Psychology and a visiting expert of a psychology writing service recommends “to ask students to give their feedback about your work as a teacher as well.” What do they enjoy the most about your lessons? What do they lack? What problems do they experience? What changes would they like to introduce? By asking students to assess their teaching performance, you show your interest in their opinion and create trustful relationships in the group. Furthermore, it is a great opportunity to see yourself through the eyes of others and grow as a teacher.
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