Saturday, October 15, 2011

Communicating in the classroom

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Communicating in the Classroom

1. Collect/Learn

Effective communication is necessary in the educational environment if the learning process is to take place. A dialogue must be established between the teachers and the students and the students among themselves if any learning is going to occur. As the title of this component states, this dialogue is present not only in verbal communication, but also in non-verbal gestures and nuances and through certain types of media. The book breaks down the three areas where communication is crucial as being in instruction, in the class climate, and in the classroom features. I am going to primarily focus on certain aspects of classroom instruction.

Class discussions should be an element of almost every lesson. They offer a quick and easy assessment, and depending upon the reaction of the students they can even determine the pace of the material being studied. If the class as a whole appears to not understand then a little reinforcement might be called for. Class discussions also serve as an excellent way to review a lesson or a unit prior to a big test. However, as most teachers know from experience, and as described in the textbook, true class discussions do not come about without some effort, and the effect of not having a true class discussion can often have a detrimental effect on the other students of the class.

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True class discussions are ones in which every member of the class participates, and are not always limited to “immediate response” questions which the book calls “convergent questions.” In our professional development class we modeled an example of a true class discussion. The method we used, which called for students to be graded on the quality of their participation by their peers, is effective in achieving many of the goals a teacher would strive for in a classroom.

First, it gives students incentive to speak out in class, and holds them accountable for the quality of their input. This is important in teaching students to participate in a group setting in a helpful and meaningful way. Some students may not realize that they can contribute positively; and others, who merely enjoy the sound of their own voice, may begin to restructure what they are saying in class.

Furthermore, this setting highly facilitates peer communication, something that can be improved in almost any classroom. If students are actively engaged in rating their peers then this means they have to create some type of standard by which they are judging the quality of the persons speech. This standard is something that they can then begin to use in judging the quality of their own participation, both in and out of the classroom.

When students do interact with one another is it plain to see the impact on non-verbal communication between them, so it must also be important in teacher-student relations as well. Students are very adept at picking up on non-verbal cues, even if they are doing so sub-consciously. Therefore, teachers must use this in a productive way. Non-verbal cues seem to be the best way to make your classroom a comfortable place, and to protect against favoritism.

When there is a rapport of effective communication in a classroom, it enhances the learning process incredibly. It is not a very easy thing to achieve, but effective teaching simply cannot take place unless that dialogue is present.

. Reflect

Because I primarily focused on ‘communication in instruction’ in my research portion, I decided to use another part of communication in the classroom for my application. This is the way that I feel my classroom can best be arranged. I am in a slightly larger class than most others, but my room is rectangular, not square.

The arrangement is not quite horseshoe, but is instead semi-circle.

I like it because it gives me a lot of room to roam around in front of the classroom, while at the same time forcing all students to look at me. I learned when trying cases that you need to stay mobile, and not hide behind a podium. I use that same philosophy in my classroom.

The rows are only three deep at the most, I can maneuver in between all the rows, and all the students can see the board and the overhead screen comfortably. I cannot stand having rows because all the eyes are straight ahead. When I am in front of the classroom, the angle of the desks forces all eyes on me, and the result has been very pleasing.

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