Communication is Key
By Caroline Musserotte, TES author and Guest blogger
Caroline is a business coach who helps teachers and organizations develop their skills and unlock their potential as professionals and individuals. Caroline started her journey in the education field in 2005 as a teacher, coach, and workshop leader. She now offers a wide range of services and programs from one-to-one sessions to seminars and workshops to help teachers and schools enhance their skills.
Our world is a highly connected one. In our digital society, we are connected 24/7 — sharing and accessing information, playing games, and chatting through digital media. Phones, tablets, the internet, and laptops have shaped the world as we know it today. Technology has brought to the fore huge opportunities for communication and education in the sense that we can access and share all kinds of information with one click.
My question is, do we actually use these new tools in effective ways? I thought of this question during a trip as a teacher, coach, and consultant on the invitation of the Embassy of the United-States in Spain. As I delivered talks about the use of technologies and its impact in the SEDIC and schools, including the terrible effects of cyberbullying in different schools in Madrid, Cartagena, and Valencia, I realized one thing: communication is key to all.
In a society that claims to be highly communicative because it is highly connected, do we really communicate effectively? What if genuine communication could dramatically improve education?
After the talks, one thing became crystal clear: we want and need to communicate. The teenagers and adults I spoke with were eager to ask questions and share their experiences, feelings, and worries. People also were brainstorming about possible solutions. The presentation offered us the opportunity to talk and to share ideas — that was pure communication. The discussions that followed my talks were even more powerful than the PowerPoint presentation in itself; it seems technology was actually used as a trigger for communication. Communication between adults, communication between children, communication between adults and children, and communication between communities can bring a positive change to everything, and especially, to education.
We naturally know how to communicate when we are children. We may not use proper words or sentences, but our parents understand our needs when we are babies. We have no idea how to write, but we can draw when we are 3 or 4 years old. We have no idea about syllables, rhymes, or rhythm, but still we sing from a very young age. And that is communication. Nobody taught us the rules, but instinctively we have an idea about them.
Fostering communication is therefore crucial at school. Education is for teaching each other how to live respectfully in a society and to develop complete individuals who are able to think critically and express their opinions. School is the place where we bring communication to the next level, where we learn how to use words in such a way that they become the most powerful and universal tools we have to grow up as individuals.
We all come from different social, religious, and educational backgrounds, and the only way we have to improve our world is through education and communication. As a language teacher myself, I obviously know the importance of communication but so does a Math or Geography teacher. We can be extremely knowledgeable in our subjects, but if our communication skills are shaky, we will not convey the information well.
As teachers, we have the constraints of paperwork, exam results, classroom management, time management, and more. However, what if we stopped for a while, took a step back, and started thinking about how much improving communication would change our teaching world?
Have you noticed how a phone call to parents can change things dramatically? Have you noticed how genuinely listening to your students can improve the way we teach because we really know what their needs are? Maybe we should spend more time in our classrooms focusing on the tools to develop efficient communication: verbal, nonverbal, written, or creative; sharing ideas, giving opinions, debating, and arguing. Isn’t that communication? Isn’t that an integral part of teaching?