Communicating effectively is an essential skill for teachers and a cornerstone of any classroom.
Clear and concise communication is even more important in the modern school system as classes may be larger than in previous years, and ESOL and SEND students in mainstream education must be given every chance of keeping pace with their peers.
With these challenges in mind, here are some simple tips for communicating with clarity, even in the largest of classes.
1. Core verbal techniques for communicating effectively
Engagement is a challenge for any teacher – no matter the class size, regardless of the academic level of the pupils.
Try to use these vocal techniques to ensure that your audience remains both engaged and able to understand every, single, word:
- Focus on varying the tone and speed of your voice throughout the lesson – monotonous delivery of a lesson can result in disinterested pupils. Use the pattern of your words to convey meaning and the pace to show emphasis or enthusiasm.
- Pause regularly to gain instant attention, this is also important for when moving from one subject to the next and for allowing pupils to digest information.
- Perfect the art of projecting your voice (here’s a handy guide and podcast on the subject of voice projection).
BCC Bitesize for Drama GCSE includes a useful guide to vocal techniques – if you have a drama department in your school or if any colleagues are involved in amateur dramatics, ask for their help in implementing and practising some of these ideas.
2. Non-verbal techniques
Maintain healthy levels of eye contact with your pupils – alternating your gaze around the room; this, along with a good posture, projects confidence (which in itself is encourages positive engagement in your students).
Smile throughout your lesson – you seek to create lessons that inspire and stimulate, you should be confident in the content you’re presenting.
Craft lessons that are unique and full of energy. Be as creative as possible and try not to rely on the same lesson plans for every class. Remember that not all of your students will be at a suitable level for a lesson plan with no flexibility.
Use a reasonable amount of movement to show your enthusiasm for the subject, but keep gesticulations to a minimum (too many and you risk distracting your audience).
3. Harness technology
Communicating effectively in our modern, digital society often relies on technology to deliver content in a format that is easily digestible.
Although the evidence that attention spans have decreased over time is not supported by scientific studies, the way children communicate and learn has definitely evolved to keep pace with technology.
Technology is capable of a transformed way of learning – there are apps for spot quizzes, course content and collaborative work, while visuals can be placed within the hands of your students for manipulation.
We’ve shared our thoughts on how technology can transform the average classroom by introducing game-based learning, and you can also find out how the varying learning styles of kinetic, auditory and visual may influence your employment of tech.
4. Take care of your voice
Teaching takes a toll on your voice. After all, you’re likely presenting for at least half of the day, whilst the other half is made up of a myriad of conversations.
You can look after your voice by limiting shouting, drinking plenty of water and ensuring you have a healthy diet (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins A, E, and C, can help ensure that the mucus membranes of your throat are well maintained).
Good breathing techniques (which are essential when projecting your voice) can also alleviate the need to strain your vocal chords.
5. Encourage group work
Debates and conversations amongst groups aren’t only good for stimulating independent thought and developing healthy group dynamics, they’re also good for your voice, as you can move from group to group rather than projecting your voice across the classroom throughout the lesson.
They also have the benefit of encouraging your students to learn about communicating effectively themselves. In order to debate a subject and convince others to follow their suggestions, students have to understand how to create mental pictures with words, and use their voices to express conviction, encouragement and enthusiasm.
If you have any suggestions for taking care of your voice, feel free to share them in the comments below or get in touch with us if you would like to write about your ideas on this blog.