Current students excel faster and are more engaged in communication than I ever was as. Their ability to adapt is unbelievable, as a teacher I must constantly adapt or I will be left behind, or worse, loose touch with my students. How do I keep up?
The method of communication says a lot about our character. Often times email is preferred method of all formal correspondence. Do students check email outside of school? I would assume not many. Is it ever acceptable to send a text message or post to twitter to reach a parent or a student? I think so, maybe you need to get a message out, or you need to remind parents of conferences. There are many ways to communicate and involve both students and parents.
While I was in the military I learned to love text messages.
In the beginning my soldiers were in constantly sending me text messages, at all hours day or night, it was irritating! It took me a while, but I realized they just needed reassurance or needed to be reminded of timelines and tasks. I came up with two conclusions; either I was not providing the information clearly through verbal means, or there was some forgetfulness. It was most likely a combination of both. This problem was easily solved through technology. I could send text messages to my soldiers pro-actively which allowed me to effectively and efficiently relay information. One advantage was they could refer back to that message at any time to review the content. This eliminated long conversation or explanation and held both my soldiers and myself accountable for dissemination of information.
How does this relate to teaching?
As teachers we have access to technology that many of our students or their families have access to. They may not have ready access to the internet, computer or cell phone. As teachers we must constantly be aware of how we present communication to ensure we are inclusive. A best practice would be for the student and parent to both fill out a form that suggests their preferred form of communication outside of the classroom. An idea would be to have many options such as Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, phone call or mail. Of course you should check with your school policy before incorporating any of these ideas. The point is that I should not use the method of communication that I am most comfortable with (which I believe is what traditionally has occurred), rather the use the method that suits the student best.
I plan on communication with students by adapting to the method that they will respond to most consistently. I will have to adapt to the current trends and technologies. A study was conducted using twitter to "encourage students to engage in convergent communication inside and outside of the classroom" (Parcha, 2014). The study was reinforcing the Communication accommodation theory (CAT) that students learn more when they interact (Giles, Mulac, Bradac, & Johnson, 1987). Each student may or may not know how they learn best, so I will provide information in a medium in which they are familiar.
Gallois, C., Ogay, T., & Giles, H. (2005). Communication accommodation theory: A look back and a look ahead. In W. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 121–148). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Keefe, Mike (2009, March 27). Evolution of Communication. The Denver Post. Retrieved 2016, September 13 from http://www.denverpost.com/2009/03/26/evolution-of-communication/
Parcha, J. M. (2014). Accommodating twitter: Communication accommodation theory and classroom interactions. Communication Teacher, 28(4), 229-235.