Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A List of Ways to Communicate in the Classroom

Happy Thanksgiving week!! I hope you all have survived your kiddos if you're still in school.

We have been out all week and boy, has it been FANTASTIC!! I do miss my kiddos, though… I'll be honest.

I have a lot to be thankful for this week. I am thankful for my students, my parents, my coworkers, all the tools we have to help us succeed in the classroom, and I am especially thankful for communication.

Without communication, this world would not function properly. We have the obvious verbal communication methods, and then the not so obvious non-verbal communication methods.

But in the classroom? There are MANY ways to communicate with your precious students.
In our classroom, some of our most favorite ways to communicate is non-verbally. We do have our means and ways to communicate verbally, but our non-verbal communication is less disruptive, fun, and engaging!
One of the ways we communicate is by using sign language for specific things.
A student needs to use the restroom, but does not want to interrupt the thought processes and working processes of others. They signal this by holding an R in sign language high in the air. The true sign for restroom in sign language is to hold an R and shake it back and forth. But, we didn't want to add the movement, just the letter!

In our classroom, we are NOT allowed to get up for anything during testing. So, what happens when a student needs a tissue?? They hold up an F in sign language. This was assigned because of the word "facial" in facial tissue. My students and I decided that we would not be able to see a T in sign language being held up, so instead, we decided on the F.

Our last sign language letter we use in the class is a W. The W represents water. Students are allowed to go to the hall at a time when I am not speaking or when their classmates are not speaking to use the restroom OR get a drink of water.

These non-verbal hand signals make it easy for substitutes, as well.

Since my students are WELL aware of the signs, they know that verbal communication for these items are NOT allowed. The amount of disruptions in our class is cut almost in half because of these signals!
We also use a variety of different verbal communication tactics in our room.
One of those verbal communication tactics is foreign language.

My students LOVE that they can use some languages throughout the day that are different than the normal language they speak, which is English.

We like to say things like thank you, please, excuse me, no, yes, and so forth in foreign language.

It's awesome to hear my students talk to each other in Spanish when one has done something nice for another and they say, "Gracias." This means thank you in Spanish.

My other favorite part is where we say hello and goodbye in different languages every day! The kiddos are the ones that choose how we say hello and I love it. They are so creative and love to mix it up every once in a while!

The cool thing is that there are many programs and companies out there that support foreign language in classrooms. One of those companies is Smartling. Smartling is a translation software company whose mission is to break the communication barriers by supporting the importance of language and communication.

A company such as Smartling is a perfect companion with the classroom culture, simply because of the translations they complete. To check out more about Smartling, click here.
Finally, one of our last favorite communication tactics is our verbal cues. These are used when it is time to transition from centers to seat work, line up for lunch, line up for specials, transition from lunch to recess, etc.

One of the ones we use a lot is, "CHAMPS!" As soon as I say this word, students know that they are to  do the following:
C - clean your area
H - help your neighbor
A - assemble your things
M - make sure you're ready to go
P - pay attention
S - sit silently

This is one that I use constantly before we transition to walking in the hallways for any reason what so ever. They are well aware of what CHAMPS means now. Plus, they line up right in front of our CHAMPS posters for classroom management. Kind of cool how it all ties together!

Another verbal cue we use is, "Everybody FREEZE!" No matter what they are doing, they must throw their hands in the air and freeze. This is used when the announcements come on, when I need their attention immediately, or when I want to see who is where in a task.

The fun part? They can freeze however they want - a leg in the air, mid-walk, sitting on the floor, standing up… whatever they want as long as their hands are up and they are frozen. Perfect way to get them to focus and remain silent for important announcements or information.


These, of course, are not the ONLY communication tactics that happen in our classroom. This is just a list of a few. Others that I do:

-write on desks when substitutes are coming
-write on whiteboard the directions for a task
-newsletters for parents/students
-ClassDojo points
-green/yellow/orange/red cards for behavior
-elephant ears when others are talking

What kinds of communication means do you have in YOUR classroom? I'd love to hear about them below!

Again, Happy Thanksgiving week!! Thank you for all that YOU do as educators and parents!
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