How To Verbally Communicate with Students

Communication is the key to a good teacher-student relationship. As a teacher, you have had students who are easy to talk to and understand, but others may leave you scratching your head. Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively with your students.  

  1. Don't talk over their heads.  You need to know who your audience is and what they can understand. Using too much technical jargon or "$5 words" may just lose the students' attention and they will tune you out completely.  Keep it on a level they will understand, but don't try to be their age.  While they may all talk in slang most of the time, keep your speech professional.
  2. Don't talk below their level.  The other side is talking down to the students.  Treating high school students like Kindergarteners may cause them to tune you out as well.  Knowing your audience is the key.
  3. Check for understanding.  When giving verbal directions, make sure the students are following by looking for confused looks or bewilderment.  Have the students repeat what you say back to you in order to make sure you are on the same page.  It is often like a game of telephone and they do not hear the same thing you are trying to tell them.  By repeating your words, there is no miscommunication.
  4. Speak clearly and slowly.  This is usually not a problem for most teachers, but at times you may feel rushed or frustrated due to a short class period or an over-active class.  When you speak too fast or too softly, you will lose their attention.
  5. Use non-verbal cues to emphasize important parts.  Body language is a good way to get the point across.  Use a variety of positive body language cues and hand gestures to help the students understand the main points. 
  6. Write it down if necessary.  Not all students are auditory learners.  While verbal communication may be easy and time effective, for best results offer directions in a variety of methods.  Write down the most important parts as you talk or list the main points on the chalkboard before you begin.  Visual learners will appreciate the effort and it will also act as a roadmap to keep the discussion on track.

Students try their best to listen most of the time.  Sometimes they just don't understand and are afraid to ask for clarification.  Keep the above ideas in mind when verbally communicating in order to be effective.  


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