Communication in – and outside of – the classroom

If you google the following question: Why is communication important in the classroom?

… the following answer appears immediately:

Communication makes learning easier, helps learners achieve goals, increases opportunities for expanded learning, strengthens the connection between learner and teacher, and creates an overall positive experience.

As mentioned in our previous Teachers’ Blog (refresh your memory here: Everyday strategies for teachers in 2021), the feedback from teachers, after having read 4 Strategies to start the new school year right, was inspirational as well as thought-provoking; it also provided lots of practical advice that can – and should – be implemented in the classroom.

From the feedback it was clear that many teachers fully realised – and embraced – the importance of ensuring that communication in – and outside of – the classroom functions at an optimal level at all times.

A mantra that Mariechen Vermeulen, Life Sciences Subject Head at GHS La Rochelle, swears by, is:

Get good at communicating.

Apart from good communication “between you as the teacher, your colleagues and even the principal” and good communication within the classroom, you should also try to establish a way to communicate with learners outside the classroom, she states. This is even more important as “some schools employ an alternate week rotation system where teachers see certain groups of learners only once every two weeks”.

Making sure that you have a way to contact your learners (and they you) will help tremendously in supporting their distance learning / home learning experience. This can be done via WhatsApp, email groups and/or Microsoft Teams.

Jenny Campbell, internal moderator of Mathematics Paper 1 and part of TAS Maths team, cautions that communication should be “open and honest” at all times.

She advises that teachers should meet and communicate with parents who have concerns, and adds that the learner should be present in the meeting between parent and educator. 

Open and honest communication will inevitably show that you as a teacher value the support of the parent(s) and that the parent(s) will support your effort as a teacher, opines Jenny.

Mariechen emphasises that “identifying problem areas and communicating them to parents (and learners) early on can really help learners to adjust their learning strategies accordingly to achieve success”.

If you’ve ticked off being:

  • good √
  • open √ and
  • honest √

in your communication, you should also remind yourself to be empathetic.

Or as Norman Davies, Head of Science at Pinelands High, puts it, “Embrace the power of empathy”.

He points out, “If there is one thing the worldwide pandemic has taught us, it is to be kind. No-one has been left unscathed by what is happening all around us”.

The last words belong to Habiel Adams, Head of Commerce at Christel House.

He suggests that teachers should firstly communicate – and form “communities of best practices” – with neighbouring schools and schools in their district. In this way “workload can be reduced significantly and insight can be gained into how different colleagues create assessment material”.

Secondly teachers should also “take time to meditate” – communicate with yourself and “reflect on your teaching and its impact”.