Libraries are full of entire books on this topic. The attempt here is to cover some basic skills and knowledge’s concerning effective instruction.
Effective instruction requires many skills and much knowledge...and a little natural talent doesn’t hurt. The art of effective speech can apply to anyone. But the instructor/educator needs the dedication of a clergyman, the selling abilities of a salesman and the diagnostic acumen of a physician, combined with the capabilities of a silver-tongue orator to be truly successful. Let’s take a look at what makes a good disseminator of information.
Knowledge of the subject to be taught. Effective communication cannot result if the process consists of ignorance talking to ignorance. An instructor’s communication of thought, concept, skill, or teaching must be based on a foundation of subject mastery. No one lives who knows everything about anything. The instructor must regard himself as a student. You learn something new with every class you teach. Enter the classroom feeling that you have more ammunition in your mind than you will ever have to fire! This raises your self-confidence and your enthusiasm will be at high pitch.
Effective communication. You actually listen more than you speak. Analysis of communication must look at both the listener and the speaker. This is the foundation for student-instructor interaction. Only 25% of a person’s time deals with reading and writing. So, we will concentrate our efforts with the speaker/listener process. It is very rare to get a student who has been trained as a listener. High schools/colleges don’t have listening training. This means you must teach so that the student must listen. Communication means transferring your ideas to a listener. This process - interactive teaching - is the foundation of any communication effort. Talking to students can take various forms. Teaching one student or a group, the only way you can know they understand is to interact with the listener. YOU become a teacher AND a listener; so does the student. The better you listen, the better you speak. A better speaker is a better teacher.
One way communication is only as good as the student’s memory, if he’s awake. Remember, to communicate well, you must involve the listener, creating a two-way channel. You need to interact with your audience/listeners. This lets you know that they know what you are teaching.
What about reading your class presentation? This is a poor substitute for instruction. Most students will hit you with “if you can read it, so can I. Give it to me, and let’s go home.” Reading allows no interaction and very little eye contact. Extemporaneous means to speak without notes after careful preparation. This is also the method with the most flexibility. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of effective speaking. Primarily there are three:
These breakdown further into the communication vitality’s.
The first is Physical Vitality. Use movement in the classroom to your advantage. Gesture, use aids effectively and correctly, be animated rather than a stone figure. This makes you much more interesting to listen to.
The second vitality is Contact Vitality. Try to make each student feel like they are an important participant in the class. Spread your eye contact to all. Speak to students as individuals. Generally, sell your product - teach it like it matters.
Voice Vitality is third. The human voice has tremendous capabilities, and the good talker uses as many of these as he can. Tone, pitch, and hardness all contribute to the quality of your vocal sounds.
The forth vitality deals with words. It concerns using and selecting words which can be easily understood by all of your students. Students who can’t understand you can’t learn from you. Dr. Ralph Nichol, Professor at the University of Minnesota, conducted a research study on communications. He found that the distortion in one-way communication from the top down in a chain of command amounted to 70% by the time the message reached the worker. Instructors cannot tolerate such a percentage of error. You must ensure that the word of the lesson and the actions of the listener are true reflections of what was intended or required.
Personality traits. You might expect that the extrovert, the bold action type, would make the best speaker, and the shy, quiet, introvert would be the worst. Don’t count on it. Many individuals, shy and retiring by nature, have given history its finest examples of the spoken word; e.g., Abraham Lincoln. The following traits will be most important in your work as a teacher:
Enthusiasm. A teacher who displays interest both vocally and physically in the subject he teaches will find that most of his students learn with interest.
Honesty. Honesty used in reference to instruction means telling your students the truth. Always honestly separate the “need-to-know” information from “nice-to-know” information.
Humor. A sense of humor is vital to a teacher. This does not mean skill at telling jokes. It is best defined as your ability to laugh at yourself when necessary.
Tact. Treat an audience or class with courtesy and patience.
Source: U.S. Navy
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