Collaboration among teachers, and school administrators, is extremely important when it comes to effectively engaging with and reaching students in the classroom. In fact, to truly be an effective teacher, educators first need to be effective communicators.
“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests student learning improves significantly when teachers collaborate and collaboration depends on clear, consistent, and open lines of communication,” says Michael Linane a technology and engineering teacher at Old Rochester Regional School.[i]
So the question is – how do you go about improving communication between staff and faculty members at your school?
Pay Attention to Different Communication Styles
It doesn’t matter if you are in the initial planning stages of a new project or completing the final tasks on a project you started 3 months ago, the first order of importance is to clearly communicate team goals and expected outcomes. A great way to effectively deliver your message when speaking to others is to pay attention to their style of communication.
Some people are more detailed oriented while others may prefer a general overview of each task. It’s not that any style is more successful than the others, it just helps you better engage with your peers and colleagues when you have an idea of what type of communicator they are.
To effectively communicate with your fellow educators and staff members, try to determine their preferred communication style based on these clues:
- Personal communicators value one-on-one connections and do best when there is an emphasis on personal relationships. They may seem over emotional at times, but this is due to their great compassion for everyone’s feelings which also makes them great listeners.
- Functional communicators focus more on the specific, step-by-step tasks and processes needed to complete each project. In fact, functional communicators often make great project managers!
- Intuitive communicators are quick and to the point and prefer a big picture, general overview of projects. They tend to be very creative, often thinking outside of the box, but may get overwhelmed if you give them too many details.
- Analytical communicators are extremely logical and may appear cold or unemotional at times, but this is most likely due to them being laser focused on the specific facts and figures for each project. They dislike vague language without supporting data and do best when you give them lots of detailed research.
The Importance of Active Listening
The next thing to concentrate on once you’ve determined everyone’s communication style is to practice your active listening skills. There’s nothing worse than someone talking over you when you are trying to get your point across, don’t be that person!
Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert at The Balance Careers says, “Good listeners always strive to fully understand what others want to communicate, particularly when the statement lacks clarity. Listening demands the attempt to decode and interpret verbal messages and nonverbal cues (e.g., the tone of voice, facial expressions, physical posture). Great listeners also show their curiosity and ask a lot of questions. Do this, and you will make a great impression.”[ii]
Here are some top tips to help you become a better active listener:
- Face the person who is speaking
- Maintain eye contact without staring
- Pay attention to what is being said
- Keep an open mind and don’t judge
- Give occasional feedback without interrupting
- Really listen and try to picture what they are saying
- Ask questions, if necessary, for clarification
- Pay attention to nonverbal clues
You can learn how to become a better listener by practicing these active listening skills. This means putting down your cellphone, so you not only hear the words as they are being spoken, but you also comprehend the complete message being conveyed by the speaker.
The final piece to this communication puzzle is finding and using the right tools and technology to foster continued collaboration among staff and faculty.
Using Tools to Encourage and Foster Collaboration
Another key to improving communication among colleagues is to work diligently on creating and developing a strong district-wide strategy that can be implemented at every school. Things like team planning sessions and scheduling regular collaboration opportunities are a few methods to try out.
In a recent Forbes article, the Forbes Agency Council mentioned that, “Poor communication is a constant problem in companies. You can have three diligent people all working to get something done, and all operating on completely different interpretations of what that task is supposed to be. Team leads can miss internal memos about problems or updates, and staff can become frustrated by vague or contradictory messages coming from different sections of the department.”[iii]
If regular face-to-face meetings aren’t always possible, due to staff being spread out at various facilities in your district, then using tools that allow for remote communication becomes extremely important. This can include things like a district website, weekly emails, official school social media sites or video emails. Even using an online organizational tool like Trello or Slack, goes a long way in keeping everyone current on the status of all projects, news and current events.
If your school lacks the necessary tools to effectively communicate on a local or district level conferences, such as FETC®, are the perfect way to help you stay on top of the latest ed tech news, trends and ideas.
Discover Great Ed Tech Products at Industry Events
Your colleagues at Future of Education Technology® Conference may have different experiences and expertise, but they all share common challenges and goals. School and district administrators, classroom teachers, IT professionals, special education directors, curriculum and media specialists, and other educators with roles or interest in ed tech, attend FETC® year after year to find the professional learning, technology solutions and connections they need to transform learning in and out of the classroom.
The 40th anniversary of the conference is scheduled for January 14 – 17, 2020 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla. Registration opens in June – join the FETC® mailing list to be the first get the inside scoop on industry news, conference highlights and more. Sign up today!
[i] Liane, Michael. EdSurge. How to Improve Your School Staff’s Communication: Tips and Tricks from the Classroom. Retrieved from: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-09-02-how-to-improve-your-school-staff-s-communication-tips-and-tricks-from-the-classroom
[ii] Doyle, Alison. The Balance Careers. Types of Listening Skills with Examples. Retrieved from: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/types-of-listening-skills-with-examples-2063759
[iii] Forbes Agency Council. Ending Confusion: 15 Ways You Can Improve Internal Communications. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/11/08/ending-confusion-15-ways-you-can-improve-internal-communications/#d93304e44f03