Architects Communicating with a Variety of Audiences

Standard

Mr. Brooks (far left) and I (far right) with a mockup for the ARCH 335 project

Robert Brooks is an associate professor at Louisiana Tech University in the School of Design, teaching both architecture and interior design courses.  Both before arriving in Ruston and since, Mr. Brooks has worked in an architecture firm/office setting either as an intern, project manager, or director. His firm, Studio Brooks + Emory, LLC, formerly Studio Brooks, LLC, was founded in 2005 and has continued to today, having done projects in and around the area, such as the Co:Lab house. The Co:Lab house, built initially for a Tech student, has since been transformed into a studio building for the School of Design under Mr. Brooks’ direction. Through the ARCH 335 Design Build program, Mr. Brooks has helped to foster relationships in the community and build charity projects as seen fit.  I have the privilege to be in Mr. Brooks’ class this quarter for ARCH 335 Design Build and got a chance to sit down with him during the hectic schedule associated with the class.

COMMUNICATING IN THE WORKPLACE

As Mr. Brooks explained, most in house workplace communication happens in an informal way. “99% of all internal communication happens face to face or via text message”, he said. Skipping formalities and really getting to quick communication is paramount to making as many decisions as are required to keep a project running at top speed. Communicating with co-workers in message services such as GroupMe means that no one is out of the loop on decision making for more than a few hours and makes slower communication methods such as email inefficient. Communication in the workplace has become so quick and efficient, in fact, that it hardly breaks down if ever. As he put it so simply,” The best way to solve communication issues is to communicate!”

COMMUNICATING TO THE PUBLIC

As ideas leave the firm walls and is distributed to the public and the clients in particularly, communication becomes more important. As Mr. Brooks put it, “All communication is dependent upon the audience in which it is intended. We generally know our subject material well enough to tailor its delivery to the intended audience. Most of the language used to talk to our engineering consultants is technical in nature, while the language used to communicate with our clients is generally persuasive in nature, and the language used to communicate with collaborators is generally informal in nature.” Again in this area of communication, technology shows its ability to solve problems at large. “Technology has made it much easier to communicate complex ideas, regardless of physical location. We have even presented work to a client over their mobile phone using a PowerPoint app. Technology has also made it easier to quickly and effectively customize presentations for specific audience groups.”

COMMUNICATING IN ACADEMIA

As a professor as well as a professional, Mr. Brooks has a special perspective on how to communicate with fellow architectural minds, albeit developing minds. “Generally I have to be much more patient with students than I do with any other contact group”, Mr. Brooks said, to which we both responded with a chuckle. Because formative places for architecture such as academia are the roots of new ideas these days, Mr. Brooks ended the interview with a statement on a better future with change. He articulates, “The biggest change I would like to see is not between architects and clients, or architects to architects… but rather I would like to see academia engage the public more. Academia has the potential to help change the world for the better. But unfortunately, most academics are only talking to each other rather than the people that they could benefit the most.”

Cody Pate, Guest Blogger

Technical Communication in Teaching

Standard

Mrs. Madden, in blue, helping students at Ouachita Parish Junior High for STEM Day.

Teaching requires oral and written communication daily no matter what level of the education system you are teaching on. I was able to get an insight of just how much communication teachers have to be prepared for when entering the classroom.

The Interviewee: Mrs. Diane Madden

Mrs. Diane Madden is the Associate Director of SciTech and a UTeach Professor here at Louisiana Tech University. Before she came to Louisiana Tech she taught everywhere from Virginia to Lincoln Parish schools. Mrs. Madden has taught elementary, junior high, and college students throughout her continuous teaching career. She has taught subjects ranging from art to Earth Science to even education classes.

Oral Communication in the Classroom

Oral communication plays a big role in the classroom. Teachers communicate orally with students and even coworkers on a daily basis. Mrs. Madden talks about how you have to be careful with your words and annunciation to get through to students. She says, “You have to know your audience.” By knowing your audience, it makes it easier to communicate with the students. She explains that for elementary kids you have to use a simpler vocabulary rather than a larger one like you would use for college students.

Written Communication Teachers Face

While oral communication plays a big role in the classroom, written communication plays a bigger role. Mrs. Madden explains how written communication is integrated every day when teaching. It is integrated through bell-works, lesson plans, worksheets, grant writing, and much more. “Written communication is important because you deal with students, parents, and faculty,” said Mrs. Madden. Teachers must watch their grammar and express themselves clearly to get the message across, if not the message is lost.

The Process of Grant Writing

A big part of technical writing that Mrs. Madden faced as a teacher and even the Associate Director of SciTech was grant writing. Grants require a great amount of technical writing skill. Mrs. Madden expressed that it is very time consuming. A big grant takes around “40 hours.” It even takes collaboration with others most of the time. She explained how you have to orally communicate with others to make a grant successful. Sometimes it is difficult she said because you must be concise in your work and collaborating with others is challenging when disagreements arise.

Oral Vs. Written Communication

While both oral and written communication is challenging in their own way, Mrs. Madden says written communication is harder. She expressed how when writing to students they may not always get what you are saying, so you have to think like them to get your message across. Mrs. Madden explained, “Written communication is the hardest because you have to go back and check yourself and look at what it’s telling you.” A big key in written and oral communication is making sure the audience is addressed correctly.

Growing is a Part of Teaching

Mrs. Madden has been in the education system for 20 years, and she said she is always growing as a teacher and through her technical writing skills. “Even though I learned a lot there is still time to improve,” stated Mrs. Madden. Teachers grow through new teaching methods everyday while also improving their communication skills. By being a teacher growth is not a foreign thought, it is a part of what makes the job successful and an even better communicator.

Destiny Rivet, Guest Blogger

 

The Role of Communication in Teaching

Standard

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