Friday, March 6, 2015

Simple Communication Tips

From Sound Discipline, brief communication ideas, which are designed for teachers, parents, and mentors with a single mentee, within a group, or among a group activity with matched pairs. Adapt, adapt, adapt.

One of the best ways to build positive relationships among your students is to help them understand and practice effective communication tools. Learning to listen well, to articulate feelings, to take turns and to use ‘I’ messages are skills that many children (and adults) are lacking.  Practice can help students become “fluent” listeners.

Here are some ideas:

Build language: Have your students brainstorm feeling words. Divide a poster into four quadrants and label each one with one of the following words: Sad, Mad, Scared, Glad. Ask students to think of all the feeling words that fit under each category. Record the words. Notice that some may fit in more than one spot.  Hang the poster in the classroom where you and your students can refer back to it.

Practice listening: Pair students up and have them role-play different ‘ineffective’ ways to communicate. First, for about 20 seconds, have both students tell each other about something (their favorite TV show, book, or what they did over the weekend) at the same time. Invite comments from students about what they noticed.

Second, have one student in each pair re-tell their partner about the same thing and ask their partner to act bored (look away, play with shoelace, etc). Invite students to share how they felt during that experience.

Next have one partner again share something as above, and the other partner interrupts and begins to talk about their own experience.  Discuss again.  Have the students reflect and share what behaviors would help a listener stay focused and help the speaker feel heard. (You can make a list on the board/poster/doc cam)

Lastly, repeat the activity but have the listener use effective communication using the strategies the students came up with. Discuss again.  What other strategies did they use that worked? (Add to the list).  This list can then be used as a common reference for using listening skills.  As the leader of the classroom you can have your students pause while you ask, “How are we doing at using our listening skills?” “Is there anything that you could do now to make it better?”

Use I-messages: Have students practice giving ‘I’ messages…
’I feel ___________ when you ___________ and I wish ____, referring to the feeling word chart that was generated, if they need help.          

Learning effective communication skills is a beginning step towards building respect and trust within the classroom [or within any relationship with a youth or adult.]

Email newsletter, March 2015

Ret. 3-5-15

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