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Terrific Teaching Tips, Issue #033-- November 2012 Ezine
November 01, 2012
I hope your October included fun filled Halloween Activities and of course, academic learning as well. In this newsletter, I will cover 2 topics:
1. Being a great communicator
2. Tips for getting ready for REPORT CARDS (yes, it's that time again)!
Before I discuss these two topics, I want to tell you about a great offer that I'm making on my website.
Over my years of teaching, I have mentored numerous new and inexperienced teachers. Even now, I mentor student teachers that I evaluate when they practice teach, during their school placements.
Until now I have responded to many questions from my readers via email. I am now adding a more personal touch for those of you who wish to speak with me directly. For only $49 U.S. during a one month span, I will provide one hour or two half hour sessions where we can either meet in person (locally in Toronto), speak over the phone (Canada or U.S.A) or use SKYPE to discuss any issues you want to bring up.
If you are interested in me being your mentoring consultant please use the contact me form on my website. On the form please indicate what you wish to discuss and provide me with your contact info and we can arrange a meeting time.
Being a Great Communicator
I believe that eye contact plays a vital role in effective communication. Remember, you must make eye contact with every student in your class as often as you can.
Many communicators only make eye contact to a few people in a group and only respond to a select few. By paying attention to everyone and not limit your attention to a few, you'll improve your communication skills instantly.
On my website, I have discussed extensively about teachers' non-verbal strategies. However, I want you to notice and be aware of your students' signs of non-verbal communication. For example, playing with their hair, chewing on fingers/pencil, tugging on a button/sleeve/ear or keeping their hands in their pockets. You may have to adjust your teaching but you'll become a better communicator.
If you need to give students factual information about schedules, "don't forget" reminders, notes to parents, etc. Do that first thing in the morning, not at the end of the day. Keep your messages brief and to the point. Students usually turn you out before you are ready to dismiss them.
Be careful not to say "that's a good question" when a student asks one. Others may believe that their questions weren't worthy enough. Even though praise motivates, compliments can make others afraid to communicate. What you say in public or in private does have a bearing on your communication skills with the whole class.
If you want to be a good communicator, make sure you give straight, solid answers to students' questions. If your answer is "maybe", explain your reasoning. If you need to think about it or consult others, then tell your students. You need to be honest and direct.
Whether you're talking to students, parents or your colleagues, communication is crucial. Try not to make people feel trapped or force them to confront you or give you a dishonest answer. Being a great communicator means that you ask questions, not tell people.
For example, when you're at a staff meeting, try not to lecture about what you think should be done about a particular situation. Encourage free discussion, observe and ask questions. You can take on the role of a leader, if there isn't one. If you lecture, others will tune you out; even though you may have some valid points.
Many challenges in our schools today involve ethics. Remember to think first and hopefully you will say the right thing at the right time and not offend anyone.
Time is always limited in your classroom and it can be one of your most serious communication blocks. Pacing and timing of lessons and independent work is crucial and teachers have to always be aware of the time.
You need time to state the objectives and purposes of the lesson or assignment and then time to explain the skills needed. You also need time to complete all your instructions and expectations so that the students can be successful in completing their assignment. Remember that last minute instructions before the bell can hinder your communication efforts.
When making a change (the greater the change, the greater the objection), communication can be affected among the people involved. Keep in mind that whatever change you want to make with your students, start slowly, not to radical, they may be resistant and insecure. Be calm, not negative and your students will accept the change. Change is a good thing!
Being a great teacher and communicator go hand in hand. Reflect, think about your communication skills with students, staff and parents. Take what you will with these tips and I believe you will see vast improvements with the relationships with everyone involved.
Getting Ready For Report Cards
I have written extensively on report cards. Please check out my pages on this topic. However, here are some tips to keep in mind (perhaps a reminder as well).
1. Be aware of when reports are due in the office for proof reading as well as when they will be sent home.
2. Know and be very familiar with what your chosen curriculum expectations and hopefully you have taught them and are up to date.
3. Always be professional when writing your comments - emphasizing what you have taught your students, their strengths and areas of growth (weaknesses).
4. Make sure the parents will understand what you have written (layman's terms).
5. If you teach other classes, make sure your comments are ready for the other teacher(s) to add to their reports.
6. It's about quality, not quantity - you don't have to fill up the whole allotted space on a particular subject - personalize and make meaningful comments.
7. If there are problems with your technology (computer), don't be afraid to seek help immediately - you want these reports over and done with.
8. Don't leave the assessments and and report cards to the last minute, pace yourself.
9. Realize that this will be a very stressful period of time for you and all of your colleagues - everyone will be on edge.
10. Be patient, calm, take care of yourself (you don't want to get sick) and of course celebrate when you are done and your reports have been proof-read and are ready to go home - because before you know it, you will be getting ready for the parent interviews.
Good luck this month and thanks for keeping in touch. Future topics for my newsletters include "Qualities of an Effective Motivator" and "Managing Positive Behaviour in Your Classroom".
And don't forget - if you are interested in me being your mentoring consultant please use the contact me form.
Speak to you next month.
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