Connect With Your Students Through Powerful Communication
It can be challenging for instructors to find methods of relating to their students in a meaningful way. One technique for reaching out to students and developing classroom interactions is through the use of powerful communication, which engages the students’ mind and stimulates their willingness to participate in the learning process. A powerful communication message is one that connects with students and does not get lost during the process of internal filtering. Methods that can be used to enhance classroom communication include choosing appropriate words, avoiding the possibility of talking up or down to the students, watching for exaggeration and generalization, and monitoring the outcome.
An instructor’s choice of words can be as important as the message itself, as words convey meaning and emotion. Those words will either gain a connection with the students or cause them to lose interest. This is especially true if the words do not demonstrate professionalism and respect for students. Instructors may also need to consider when the use of technical jargon is appropriate, given the students’ level of experience, knowledge, and background.
Talking down to a student occurs when an instructor allows negative perceptions, opinions, prejudices, or biases to influence the message and overall tone. For a classroom environment it is helpful to remain neutral and avoid being controlled by internal filters or emotional reactions. An internal self check can help to clarify thoughts and feelings. Talking up occurs when an instructor attempts to make students feel good or to win their respect by utilizing flattery. Communication becomes powerful when students perceive neutrality and genuine praise.
Exaggeration and generalization also have a potential to lessen the effectiveness of classroom communication. Exaggeration often takes the form of overstating the facts or distorting the truth. While exaggeration may cause temporary gains in the communication process, the long-term effect can be damaging, especially when students discover the truth. Generalization may be used when instructors want to cover a deficit in knowledge or facts without acknowledging it. The problem with generalization is that it may give the appearance of being inexperienced or unprepared.
Sustaining powerful communication includes monitoring the outcome. The sender of a communication message knows the intent, meaning, and desired outcome. After it is delivered or communicated the outcome is not immediately known and follow-up questions can be asked for clarification. Classroom communication can build connections with students through the use of a proactive approach.