What's it like to be a celebrity?
"I owe it all to my adoring fans!"
To have every word you say and every move you make be scrutinized by a little band of paparazzi who report your daily actions to an attentive audience every night?
I'm talking about you, of course. The reality of teacher-student communication means that kids:
Every word you say and everything you do matters; you are a walking, talking billboard of communication in the classroom that is throwing off behavior and performance cues at all times.
This is simply human nature, with roots in our remote past: They are the tribe, you are the leader of the tribe.
If you stop to think about the reality of teacher-student communication, the thought is a little daunting. But experienced teachers know that the attention humans pay to a group leader can be used to great effect to make a point.
I'm paraphrasing the physician's creed, but it applies. You make an impression every day, so consider how not to undo your teacher-student communication goals. Think about:
We can't spend all day on our knees or perched on a stool, but there are times when we need to get down to a child's level for effective communication in the classroom. A height difference of one to three feet, depending on your grade level, can sometimes be a barrier to getting an important message across, or to coming across as a mentor rather than an instructor when a child needs some individual attention.
How many tones of voice do I use in a day of teaching? Here my most common:
Notice what is not included in that list: harsh (?), bland(?), checked-out(?) Tone of voice matters (remember your mother nagging on this? She was right!). Take care to match the voice to the message for maximum impact.
How do we manage up to 30 students at time, especially when we are working one-on-one with different students? By multi-tasking our teacher-student communication. Using non-verbal communication allows us to transmit messages without speaking or interrupting what we are engaged in at the moment.
Remember, the kids are watching. They might be hoping for attention, checking to see if you are observing their misbehavior, or simply doing a frequent check on the leader of the pack (you), but be certain of one thing: they are watching. This provides ongoing opportunities to deliver:
I estimate that 50% of my classroom communication is non-verbal. Kids will quickly learn to give these non-verbal communications back to you, and to each other. This contributes tremendously to the supportive, caring classroom climate that you are hoping to achieve.
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