To Communicate or Not?

Sallie-Wells-headLetter from Head of School

While teaching at the university level, I had the opportunity to teach a course called Practicum. As a part of this course, students worked at a place of business gaining practical experience. Over the years, I’ve taught numerous sessions of Practicum. For my students that were working within learning environments, I quickly began to see a pattern emerge relating to communication:

Learning environments that communicated with their parents versus those that didn’t.

Some of my students during our round table discussions would state that they were not allowed to say anything negative to the parent – only positive communication was allowed. This meant that every student, every day, had a great day.

Other college students reported witnessing meaningful conversations between parent and teacher, as they worked together guiding the child, helping them develop the necessary skills for lifelong success.

As a group, my college students and I discussed the pros and cons of each of these models – communicating versus not. The more we discussed, explored and delved into the various aspects of research that addresses the social/emotional development of children, the more it became clear to my college students that not communicating openly and honestly in the long run hurt the child. If all we communicate is – great day – what hasn’t been communicated? How can the child learn if no one addresses the areas/opportunities for growth? Sure, not communicating is easier and is perhaps a feel good state for the parent – happier clients could be a motivator for not communicating.

We all love to hear the good and, of course, we definitely need to hear the good, but we can’t only hear the good. Communicating only the good doesn’t leave any place for learning, guiding, nurturing, and helping the child to grow and gain necessary skills. Not communicating doesn’t allow the parent or teacher to gain insight regarding the child.

Some conversations are difficult for both sides – difficult for the teacher to say and difficult for the parent to hear and vice-a-versa. These conversations no matter how difficult they may be need to happen. If the parent and teacher can see themselves as necessary parties needed for the development of the child – a team – working for the betterment of the child – then no conversation is too difficult to have.

At the heart of all effective communication is respect. We need to remember kindness, display compassion and love, and demonstrate acceptance. We need to be able to truly hear each other.

At Clariden, we pride ourselves on being a strong village for the child. Our educators and staff learn about our students, guide them, teach them, and care about them greatly. It is our goal to teach our students to not only be great students, academically, but to be great people, emphasizing that character, integrity, kindness, trustworthiness, and respect all matter.

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”- Virginia Satir

Let’s be the best nurturing “family” ever – together – for our children – our students. The research shows that our students – our children – will not just survive – they will thrive!

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