Communication is one of the most important skills that we model and teach in our classrooms and schools. Communication between parents, students, teachers, staff and administration forms the basis for the development and continued growth of our school communities. Successful school communities have strong, clear and open channels of communication.
Effective communication is a combination of clear language and empathic listening. The language we use in our daily conversations is a measure of what we are about in our lives. As educators, do we use language to inflame or to inspire? How do we teach our students to use language? Effective language is a combination of word choice, tone of voice, body language, clarity of thought and timing. It’s important for our teachers to become masters in demonstrating and teaching in each of these areas. Excellent classrooms model communication that works. It’s through clear, thoughtful and impassioned communication that we’ll help our students find and realize their goals in life. They learn most strongly from our ways of communicating directly with them and with their peers.
Our communities and schools are riffled with verbal violence. We are constantly assaulted by words that wound and offend. Verbal violence blocks clarity, compassion, and honesty in our relationships. Since we spend most moments of our lives in relationship, blocked communication is a severe handicap. Any thought, action, response or verbalization that demands, manipulates, attacks, blames, criticizes, shames, or judges is a block to communication. Verbal violence demeans. It prevents individuals from realizing their full potential. It destroys dreams and causes heartache.
Our students experience verbal violence through their music, TV, technology and interactions with peers. Verbal violence exists in every day lives, in regular loving families. It’s insidious in it’s ability to permeate our lives without us even noticing that its crept into our communication. Students and adults must be made aware of how easy it is to slip into verbal violence.
There are many reasons to discourage the use of verbal violence with our students and between our students. Violence begets violence, especially with children when they strongly feel they need to pay back. Students who use and experience verbal violence lose their connections with self and others, which can lead to bottled up emotions and explosive behavior. Student performance in school is adversely affected in an environment where verbal violence is permitted.
Our challenge is to be aware of the type of communication we model with our children. Pay attention to your language. Listen for words that wound, destroy confidence and demean. Communication is a powerful tool. It’s also an awesome responsibility. It builds or destroys; inspires or inflames; heals or wounds. Let’s teach our children personal responsibility in their communication through our modeling of positive, caring and compassion in our choice of words. Responsible communication paves the way for future success.
See Building Community Within Schools