As I continue to learn and grow as an educator, one of the things I've pondered recently is my communication with students. I'm not perfect, but I do work on growing in my ability to connect with students and (hopefully) make a difference in their lives.
The way we speak to and treat students is very important. Both are opportunities to model appropriate communication. One negative experience a student has with an adult can undo a lot of good and be very difficult to overcome.
I have come to believe:
- All students should be treated with dignity and respect.
- We should speak to and treat students as if their parents were right there with us.
- If we wouldn't say it in front of their parents, we shouldn't say it in front of anybody else.
One of the things I've been trying to do lately when finishing a conversation with a student is ask them 2-3 questions. Something along the lines of:
- Do you feel I've treated you fairly?
- Do you feel I've treated you respectfully?
- Do you feel I care about you?
If I know I'm going to ask those questions, it helps guide my tone of voice and choice of words. And, I hope it helps send a message to the students that I truly care about them and how I treat them.
Doug Dunn is superintendent and principal of a small K-8 school in rural, south central Missouri. He can be found on Twitter at DougDunnEdS.