Goal 4: Effective Communication.

Effective communication is vital in education. Without effective communication, ideas, directions, and thoughts could be lost or misunderstood. As educators, we need to communicate with parents, students, other teachers, administrators, and the public. If communications among these groups of people fail, then the learning of the student suffers.

As educators, it is our responsibility to provide a safe and positive learning environment for each student. We need to build a relationship of respect, trust, and honesty with the students. The only way we can accomplish that in our classrooms is through proper communication. How we communicate is just as important as what we communicate, and listening is just as important as speaking. It is our responsibility to show the students that we are willing to listen to them and do everything we can to make sure they have good educational experiences. Students need to feel comfortable in the classroom and be unafraid to ask questions. We need to express clear and realistic expectations so that we can provide that positive classroom environment. Along with communicating with students comes the communication with parents. Parents need to know what is going on in the educational life of their students. If the door of communication is closed with the parents, then misconceptions about the students’ education can occur.

We also need to make sure that we are communicating properly among other educators. Miscommunication can be detrimental to a school. Teachers need to help each other out and keep the doors of communication open. When teachers get together to collaborate and communicate their ideas about pedagogy and curriculum, great things can happen. Consistent meetings among teachers, called professional learning communities, are gaining popularity in many school districts. Our school participates in professional learning communities and we have seen an increase in student achievement. These communities provide teachers with the time to brainstorm ideas and work together for a unified goal. Communication and collaboration is not always easy and if a teacher would fail to communicate properly, then relationships suffer and misconceptions would follow. The only way these communities work is through open and honest communication among the teachers.

Artifact 1

This artifact is a book review of the book “What Great Teachers Do Differently” by Todd Whitaker. In this book Whitaker explains fourteen different qualities of effective teachers. All fourteen of the qualities centered on communication with students. This book review stressed the importance of building relationships, being honest, and being consistent with the students. How a teacher communicates can affect the atmosphere of the classroom. I reviewed this book because I wanted to research things that would help me to become a more effective teacher and this book helped provide me with much insight. This artifact not only provided insight of how communication affects the learning environment, but it also provided a reflection of some weaknesses that I have in my own communication with students and ideas for what I want to improve.

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Artifact 2

This artifact is a power point presentation that is shown to the students on the first day of school. I show the students a presentation of some kind at the beginning of each year. I feel it is important for them to know exactly what the expectations are for the classroom. Students don’t need to be guessing what is expected and what isn’t. When I present the presentation, I make sure that I explain each part and demonstrate some of the expectations. Students not only need to know what is expected, but they also need to know what it looks like. Another part of the presentation that I like to communicate with students is where math is used. I like to show them a few videos of how math is used in the real world. I feel that this helps bring meaning to the class.

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Artifact 3

This artifact is a parent and student letter that goes home every year. Students are to take the letter home and have the parents read through it. I don’t think that I can communicate with parents enough. Parents need to know what is going on in the education of their children. I chose to send this letter home each year because I want the parents to understand and know exactly what is going on. This communication is vital so that there are no misconceptions of what is expected in the classroom. Sometimes students don’t communicate things well to their parents. So, to avoid this issue, I communicate directly to the parents. By having this communication, I have had fewer parents contact me on what the expectations and procedures are for my class.

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Artifact 4

This artifact is a video that we showed the students and encouraged the parents to watch at the beginning of the year. This video was designed to communicate with students and parents about what was expected in the upcoming school year. The eighth grade math department tried a new method of teaching this year, called the flipped classroom. We made this video so that both parents and students were able to get an idea of our expectations. They were also given an introduction to what the classroom was going to look like, and were given the reasoning for why we were trying this new method of teaching. We felt that the more communication we had with parents and students, the better they would understand the process.

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Artifact 5

This artifact is a template of a student checklist that I update weekly for the case managers. I removed all the names from this template. I have many students that are ELL, have IEP’s, or are part of what is called the Achieve Program. These students have daily contact with a specific case manager who is there to help them stay caught up on their school work. I started making a student checklist last year to communicate with these case managers about how the student is doing in my class. I found that the better I communicate, the more the student gets accomplished. I also made this form a Google doc so that it is easy to update and the case manager can update it too. Communication is vital to helping these students succeed in their studies.

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Artifact 6

This artifact is our eighth grade math website. This website is used to communicate with students, parents, and other teachers. This site includes lesson plans, homework assignments, copies of worksheets handed out in class, lesson videos from all three eighth grade teachers, helpful links, and a copy of the syllabus or other important documents. This site is updated regularly by all three eighth grade math teachers. This is our main line of communication with the students and parents. If students are gone, they can see exactly what they missed. The parents are also provided with a detailed outline of what their child is learning and when. The parents can also watch the same videos with their child. We set the site up so that everyone is on the same page and there are no misconceptions of what is expected.

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