Effective communication is essential for building classroom community. Being able to express feelings and thoughts effectively and respectfully, and being able to listen without interrupting or misinterpreting others are skills that need to be taught and practiced.
- Effective communication begins with respect for the other person. Your non-verbal messages come through to children very clearly. When speaking, be careful of your tone, choosing words carefully.
- Use “what” and “how” questions. While listening for the response, keep your attention and focus on the student speaking.
- Invite your students to explore listening. There are helpful activities for listening in in Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom Teachers’ Guide that involve having students share when the other person is not listening and contrasting with how it feels when someone does listen. Practicing in pairs and then generating a class list of what listening looks like and sounds like is helpful.
- Practice giving and receiving compliments. When your students are giving compliments to each other have them address the compliment receiver directly. “[Name] I want to compliment you for ______.” The receiver also responds with a name, “Thank you, [name].”
- Use a talking stick to go around the circle in class meetings.
- Invite your students to practice “I messages.” Have students generate a list of things that bother them in the classroom such as people cutting in line or borrowing things without asking, and then introduce them to ‘I’ messages – ‘I feel ___when ________ and I wish _________. Have them practice in pairs. For younger students, you can use “bugs and wishes.” “It bugs me when people _____ and I wish______.” (See specific lessons in Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom Teachers’ Guide.)