Being aware of your personal communication schema can help educators communicate effectively in early childhood field, especially if they can identify when and where it can be effective to use it. In my Head Start school, there are many cultures who share the same communication schema but there also the same amount of people who don’t. I quickly learned as an educator to look for these subtle nuances when communicating to families and I respect them, many of the families that I come in contact with have similar communication schema where talking while others are talking is acceptable. However, in other cultures it is evident that communication is different, this is demonstrated by the way they take turns when speaking, eye contact and other non-verbal communication cues. Usually changing communication styles to respect, accommodate, and match the families I am communicating with is vital for building realtionships.
Without the Sound- Big Bang Theory:
I watched the Big Bang Theory without sound and observed the following communication cues. Sheldon looks like he is one of the main character in this television show many of the scenes feature him and all or most of the characters in this episode interact with him. However, it seems as though when they are eating dinner at his house that all his friends role their eyes, and make disagreeable faces with him. In one scene he is talking to another character named Leonard but they seem to be arguing. Many times, the character Leonard is waving his hands, crossing his arms in disagreement as Sheldon continues to communicate with him. Sheldon’s character is hard to read since he shows little emotion and virtually litter non-verbal communication. The scene ends with Sheldon sitting alone and seemingly worried. My impression is that Sheldon has offended Leonard in some way and they have not come to a resolution.
Observing and listening with the sound on:
After listening to the two characters, Sheldon and Leonard, I realize and learn that Sheldon is upset with Leonard who has decided to fix his deviated septum. Sheldon thinks that the surgery is unnecessary since Leonard’s condition is not dire and does not require surgery but Leonard is tired of listening to his nose whistle. Leonard passionate about his decision but is not yelling or arguing with Sheldon and Sheldon is very upset but because his character is a bit socially different from others, he shows little emotion and doesn’t like to associate or have physical contact with many people. However, Sheldon does have an emotional connection with Leonard despite his social differences.
I have learned that people shouldn’t make assumption based solely on appearance. Listening skills are essential to communicating. My assumptions would have been for informed had I been watching a show I knew well because I already have prior schema and gathered information that would help me communicate in relational and situational contexts. I feel that taking these important skills into the professional world of early childhood would benefit me in communicating effectively with families, students, and colleagues by ensuring that I am objectively listening, improving perceptions, and verbally and non-verbally communicating efficiently.
Reflecting on the communication assessments this week, I was surprised how much little anxiety a feel and convey when I am communicating with others. I never thought that situational contexts makes me somewhat concerned but not enough to impede in my communication with others. Another insight that I have gained from the perspectives of my colleagues and friends is that I sometimes can be too empathetic when listening to others which can be a disadvantage because I can be too trusting of others. However, I am now more cognizant of how I verbally communicate with others, friends, students, and colleagues. I am fully aware of communication essentials that should be present when effectively communicating on a social and professional level.
More importantly, I have learned that I am a people-orientated listener with low communication anxiety and no verbal aggressiveness. I agree with verbal aggressiveness evaluation because sometimes I feel that I should be a bit more aggressive when conveying my viewpoints to others and not “back down rather than engage in a persuasive conversation” Rubin, Palmgreen, & Sypher (2009). This can especially impact my leadership as a head teacher my Head Start school since I tend to work with different teaching staff who often times represent a myriad of teaching levels and personalities. Becoming more assertive with professional requirements, strategies, and policies should be something I concentrate in improving.
Team building and Development
Think about which aspects of the groups made for the hardest good-bye. Are high-performing groups hardest to leave? Groups with the clearest established norms? Which of the groups that you participated in was hardest to leave? Why? What sorts of closing rituals have you experienced or wish you had experienced? How do you imagine that you will adjourn from the group of colleagues you have formed while working on your master’s degree in this program? Why is adjourning an essential stage of teamwork?
Team building might seems like a daunting task, sometimes it is fun, sometimes it can be awkward, and sometimes the chemistry between individuals in a group can be difficult. Whatever the situation may be, team building takes effort, willingness, compromise, problem-solving, collaboration, mutual trust, and respect in order for a team to come together and be successful.
The hardest group to leave in my personal experience was my head start teaching-coaching team. I believe that because our norming stage was so powerful and closely knit that after we adjourned it was very hard to say goodbye. During the norming stage of our team building we developed a great report with one another and we always communicated is a positive and constructive manner when things were not going quite as we planned. In the norming stage, we have developed strong processes, procedures, and guidelines for the group that helped us work productively, share experiences and information, and most importantly solve any conflict or issues that arose. In addition, because we were working so well together, team members trusted each other enough to feel secure enough to share footage of them teaching best practices and teaching strategies learned together during coaching sessions. The norming stage set the environment for allowing every teacher to feel safe enough to share their teaching struggles as well which in turn aided many of my colleagues and I to develop stronger teaching skills, methods, and practices. Hence our performing stage was very efficient and successful.
Although the coaching teaching staff adjourned temporarily for summer vacation, the leader of the group was ensured that we had a proper closing ritual before summer break. The coaching team celebrated by creating a potluck lunch and giving out gifts to the coaching team members for all of their efforts. We also share lessons learned and the take aways that we learned from coaching tips and strategies of teachers in the group.
I hope and imagine that adjourning with colleagues in my master’s degree program would be similar in spirit. Although we cannot physically convene and see each other, I believe the same positive sentiments and messages will be conveyed. I have learned so much from the comments, thinking, experiences, and perspectives of my colleagues that I will be sad that this part of my master’s journey will soon come to an end.
I believe that communicating with different groups and cultures it influences individuals to be more aware of what they are saying verbally and non-verbally especially when early childhood professionals are trying to be culturally competent in their communication. Intercultural communication is an important exchange between cultures and it is one that can build bridges and relationships if done respectfully and competently. I do find myself using many techniques to communicate with people from different groups and cultures because I personally do not want to offend anyone or culture. However, it is important to note that the more communication individuals have with diverse populations the more you learn about them and from them. It increases our knowledge about cultures and helps to think more culturally competent (O’Hair, 2015).
One way that I communicate differently is practicing intercultural sensitivity (O’Hair, 2015). I try to make sure that I am practicing “mindfulness of behavior” that may offend other cultures (p.143). I don’t assume anything about any culture and I don’t make sweeping generalizations about a whole group or culture.
Based on what you have learned this week, share at least three strategies you could use to help you communicate more effectively with the people or groups you have identified.
Three strategies that I use to help me communicate more with people or different cultural groups are:
- I practice accommodation, so adjusting how I express myself and nonverbal behaviors (O’Hair, 2015).
- I also practice convergence which just means that I may adapt and change my communication so that it better aligns with another person’s.
- I am mindful of not coveying stereotypes and try to consider if a cultural group may have high-context culture or low-context culture so that I could better communicate with them.
Educators and educational institutions should train and teach all educators nonviolent communication and the effectiveness of communicating using the 3 R’s. As diverse families and children continue to grow in every educational institution are the country, it is integral that positive communication is used to bridge together and promote inclusivity, equality, and compassion in our society.
My personal workplace challenges involve a particular seasoned teacher who has been working for my school for 8-10 years and has clearly rejected my promotion as a head teacher. This teacher has a selective perspective on the different requirements and responsibilities that teachers have at our school. for the most part Wendy (let’s call her) thinks that teachers at my school are given too much work and so Wendy may decide not to complete responsibilities in a timely manner or negate to do them at all. She often refers to the old way of doing things or referring to years earlier when fewer responsibilities were required for preschool or headstart teachers. Wendy only pays attention to “information that is consistent with her schema” (O’Hair, 2015, p.38). However, when I was selected as head teacher at our school she had a public meltdown and questioned why she wasn’t given the position. At the time, I didn’t address the conflict with Wendy because she demonstrated she was in no mood to talk about it and was very upset that she wasn’t chosen.
Now that I am more familiar with effective conflict resolution strategies, she and I could have benefited from nonviolent communication. Dr. Rosenberg describes nonviolent communication to be a compassionate way of “both speaking and listening which leads us to give from the heart, connecting us with ourselves and with each other which allows natural compassion to flourish” (p.1). I believe that going through the steps of clearly stating what was observed without criticism or judgment by simply stating what is happening would have started a great conversation between us. Stating how she felt regarding this action (again without judgment or criticism) and clearly stating what she needed connecting it to her feeling would have helped her sort through her emotions. It would also have given me the opportunity to hear her, feel compassion, and express my own concerns. In addition, I would have also used productive conflict to figure out how to best resolve this matter and involve her in resolving this conflict. Using productive conflict may clarify each other’s thinking regarding the issue under discussion.
What would you do and what strategies might you use?
The foundation of all interactions between people is communication. Whether verbal or non-verbal communication connects us to others and to information. On person who I consider a great communicator is the family counselor at my Head Start school, Ms. Aitza. Ms. Aitza is able to show great respect, empathy, resourcefulness, warmth, caring and problem-solving for all the families that she serves. When is helping families, she exhibits a great deal of cognitive complexity and is often aware of how to move within many cultural realms. In addition, Ms. Aitza builds a report with the families which makes it easier and more effective to supply them with resources they need or address concerns they have about their child. The relational context she creates often times influences the way a parent collaborates with her and shares information with her. Moreover, Ms. Aitza has mediated many difficult issues through a wide array of situational contexts which proves how flexible and successful she can be about maneuvering through different types of social environments. Lastly, Ms. Aitza’s empathy and ability to listen makes her so valuable, proactive, and resourceful in anticipating and supporting the needs of the parents in my school.
I would love to be able to be as prolific a communicator as Ms. Aitza. She can enter any conversation or problematic situation and diffuse an escalating situation. She has the ability to slow down a conflict and have the parents regroup to be able to see things from different perspectives. I would like to be able to be that versatile when communicating with others.
One aspiration with regard to diversity, equity, and social justice that I have about working together with children and families who come from diverse backgrounds is to continue studying anti-bias and diversity issues. In order to be an effective advocate for marginalized and non-dominant cultures, early childhood professionals and educators must be willing to reflect on their own dispositions, values, beliefs, and biases. Without self-reflection and the willingness to learn through diverse families and communities, early childhood professionals are clueless regarding what marginalized and non-dominant cultures are struggling and facing in their lives.
One goal that I would like to set for the early childhood field related to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice is to bring forth more practical materials for novice teachers who want to start teaching multicultural curriculums and social justice. It is important that teachers and educators are supported with great research-based practices that help them present these topics of discrimination, prejudice, and bias to children in an age-appropriate platform. Many teachers, like myself who are just learning about the importance of creating safe, diverse environments of social justice must have supporting materials, resources, and curriculums to assist us in implementing such a pedagogy in a most beneficial way for families and children.
I would like to thank all my colleagues, early childhood professionals, and master teacher Dr. Meyers for creating a safe platform and learning environment for me to grow professionally. I have learned so much from all of the early childhood professionals in our classroom through their shared related stories, experiences, and knowledge. I appreciate every personal story shared because in essence sharing them made each one of us grasp a deeper comprehension of the concepts learned. Thank you for hard work and dedication Dr. Meyers and thank you, colleagues, for your continued support and professional knowledge.