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lished signals, and physical proximity. For example, if Jeffry is across the room misbehaving while the teacher is with the reading group, perhaps a “look” or a raised finger would offer the support that he needs to get back on track. If this doesn’t work, moving closer to him or placing a hand on his shoulder might help. The less disruption that is caused for the entire class is the best route to take.

Hiam Ginott (1972) provides communication strategies in his writings on congruent commu- nication. He suggests that dignity should be offered to students rather than the assignment of

blame or guilt. Rather than stating, “Emma, you are not listening to Annie’s report!” the teacher could use a positive message such as, “Emma, you are expected to sit quietly and listen while An-

nie gives her report.” Rather than demanding certain behaviors from students, Ginott suggests that more power is gained by inviting cooperation such as stating, “All students that complete

the assigned homework will be able to use the last 20 minutes of class as game time” rather than saying, “All students that don’t complete the assigned homework will have detention.”

Rapport is built and power gained with students through the communication that is used. “I” messages rather than “you” messages allow the acknowledgement of personal feelings about a situation rather than putting blame on the student. Thomas Gordon (1974) identi- fies three parts in an “I” statement. These include: problem identification, problem effect, and teacher feelings. For example, Bud is having a bad morning and comes in noisily and angrily. He sneers at Sammy and calls him a bad name. Rather than blaming Bud for hurting Sammy’s

feelings, the teacher could state: “When a student comes in noisily and angrily, other students

are hurt, and that upsets me.” This approach will encourage a more positive reaction and help build relationships rather than barriers.

Contacting parents or caregivers with a positive telephone call during the first week of school helps establish a communication link. This one phone call will make a difference when contact is needed due to a negative issue or concern. Parents can be informed of cur- rent classroom happenings and academics through the use of newsletters or a webpage. A “discussion sandwich” is good practice when meeting with caregivers. The discussion be- gins with a positive comment, the issue or problem is sandwiched in the middle, and a posi- tive comment and recommendation ends the conference. Most parents or caregivers want to know what is going on with their child, but they do not want their time wasted by petty complaints or unprepared teachers. When speaking with a caregiver, an agenda and exam- ples could be used to document classroom practices and illustrate student status.

Power can be given to students by providing opportunities for their success. The feeling of success can satisfy the basic need of power through achievement. The students deserve the

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Virginia Educational Leadership

Vol. 7 No. 1

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