The words educator and role model go hand in hand because students look up to their teachers. Students learn from you, listen to you and whether you like it or not, they are always watching you. In the classroom and around the campus, students are observing how you interact with others.
This blog post includes communication reminders so that we, as role models, can portray behaviors that can be emulated by our students. Consider the following communication strategies when interacting with others:
When interacting with others it’s easy to judge and label something they say or do as “good” or “bad”. However, you will feel less stressed in the moment, if you pause and just observe. Then use these observations to describe what is happening. Focus on the facts. Based on this mindset shift, you can remove your own emotions and be better equipped to respond. “Learning to think non-judgmentally takes practice. You have to be aware of when judgmental thinking occurs and practice bringing your attention to just the facts.”1
More than one person can be right.
Your point of view is based on your own perspective and experiences, which can vary greatly from person to person. When looking at a situation from your own perspective, that view can be very limited. When we are too focused on the thinking that “I am right and they are wrong” then this can lead to further arguments and escalation. It is quite possible and even likely that more than one person can be right, all based on their own perspective and understanding. Instead of trying to persuade the person as to why you are correct, be open to learning about the other person’s perspective. Seek resolution as the end goal, as opposed to being right in a certain situation or disagreement.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
As mentioned in Steven Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People2, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This phrase can act as your mantra. Make it your mission to listen first and challenge yourself to gain perspective and see something from the other person’s viewpoint. You may wonder how this can benefit you. Firstly, it communicates to the other person that you value what they have to say. Secondly, once the other person feels heard, the odds of them listening to you increase dramatically. It is this level of reciprocity that will help to build your relationship, and it all starts with listening.
Educators make an impact in the ways that students and other staff communicate. As we know, communication is key when working and collaborating with others. Communication occurs in various ways, including inadvertent ways. Remember, seek to be open and non-judgmental of others perspectives and to be mindful of what is being communicated. Through awareness and reflection educators can foster a growth mindset, thereby learning from their communication successes and challenges both inside and outside of the classroom.
- Christy Matta, C. (2010, June 3). Non-judgmental exercises in dialectical behavior therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/dbt/2010/06/exercises-for-non-judgmental-thinking#4
- Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: restoring the character ethic. New York, Simon and Schuster.