The Role of Communication in Teaching

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Chris Campbell is a Master Teacher at Louisiana Tech University and is the co-director of the UTeach program. He helps to train and educate the future teachers of America. He works mostly with students majoring in chemistry, biology, physics, and physical science.

The Path to becoming a Master Teacher

Chris received his bachelor’s in teaching from the University of New Orleans. Then he received his master’s from Louisiana Tech University. He taught middle school science in Simsboro, La from 2000-2012. Next he received a job offer from the Einstein Program in Washington, DC, before working for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).  He was approached by Dr. Deese to come start the UTeach Program at Louisiana Tech. Chris has been working in the field of education for seventeen years, and he enjoys creating new teachers.

Role of Written Communication

Written communication plays several roles in the field of education. At the beginning of the year, teachers have to write the syllabus for the course. The syllabus must be clear and understandable for the students. Additional to the syllabus, teachers write lesson plans. Chris is a master teacher, so he has to grade and review his students’ lesson plans. On a daily basis, he completes very few written communication tasks besides writing emails to students and other faculty members. Most of the day-to-day communication is informal, compared to some of his yearly communication. On a yearly basis, Chris writes grants that help to improve the program. He writes one to two large grants and two to four small grants. These grants help to receive new technology that students can use in the classroom.

Communication Differences between Subjects

Written communication changes between subjects. In a science classroom, written communication is based on information and facts. When you write a paper, you are trying to explain a concept. The writing is normally concise and straight to the point. Unlike other subjects, science does not include emotion in their written communication. Science is one of the subjects that opinions are rarely used because written communication is about communicating facts and discoveries.

Roles of Verbal Communication

Teachers mostly communicate when they are in their classrooms. Communication can happen when a teacher is presenting a lesson to a class or helping a student one on one. Teachers have to verbally communicate with students, parents, and other faculty. When speaking to different audiences, one will communicate in different ways. When speaking to a parent or other faculty member, one should always be professional and respectful when speaking. When speaking to a student, one may communicate more informally while keeping a student/teacher relationship. Teachers must always be aware of their audience when communicating.

Difficulties with Communication

Chris Campbell says he believes that written communication is harder than verbal communication to master. He says, “It takes time and practice to write labs and lesson plans.” One will improve his/her labs and lesson plans over time. Teachers will also learn what works best in their classrooms. This may be making a calendar with the topics they plan to cover each week. Teachers also have to learn how to do paperwork and proofread. These are skills that take time and practice to master, and many teachers struggle with written communication.

Advice for the Future

Chris has several tips for first year teachers on communicating with students and parents. When speaking, the “key thing is listening.” A teacher should “let the students talk more; they don’t have to hear you talk all the time,” says Chris. A teacher needs to get feedback from the students and get them involved in the lesson. A teacher should always try to stay professional. Last, he says to be friendly to the students but not be their friends because they will not respect you. Chris says the motto for teachers should be “don’t smile till after Christmas.”

Brittany Kastner, Guest Blogger

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