When communicating with others we need to consider the context within which we are working. We would need to adapt the way we communicate for different situations, most people do this automatically. Your school should have a range of planned communication for dealing with other professionals; there would be informal communications, meetings and discussions.
Talking is not the only way we communicate. The way we respond to others, how quickly we respond either in person, by telephone, email, etc, respecting other cultures, for example in some cultures it is polite to maintain eye contact but not in other cultures.
Always make sure you can be understood whether talking to someone or in a letter or email.
One good way to learn about your school’s culture and much more is to begin investing in relationships with other adults in the school. Value their insights, value them and the relationships you have with them.
Lunchtime in the staff room can be a good time to have a little chat/conversation or catch up with them. You are likely to find out about children with behavioural problems and how they tackle these issues, what’s coming up next in the school and you are less likely to have the feeling of being left out. If every time you go into the staffroom for lunch, you are seen and heard to be talking loudly on your mobile phone, texting or just doing something else which is alienating you from everyone else, some people may find it rude and disregarding of others and so less likely to include you in conversations.
Once you become employed to work in a professional setting like a school, you are representing the school and should conduct yourself in a professional manner. This professional manner should include the way that you communicate with the pupils and other adults.
You obviously cannot use words like ‘lol’,’defo’, and ‘rofl’, when you are sending an email or writing a comment on a child’s work or communicating in a professional way in school. You should always use appropriate language and gestures for children, young people and adults an ensure that they understand what you mean.
Culture is the way that we identify groups of people who share common characteristics including language, values, social practices and attitudes. We are not usually aware of our culture until we meet someone from a different culture.
The language, gestures, dressing, mannerisms, etc become obviously different.
The same gestures may mean different things in different cultures. For example, in some countries it is generally disrespectful to look at someone directly and boldly in the eyes, especially if they are your senior (older than you, your boss, or of a higher social class/status), whereas in the United Kingdom, not making eye contact can be seen as a sign of dishonesty. If someone avoids making eye contact with you when speaking, perhaps that is the impact of culture – not that they are rude, shy, uninterested or even dishonest.
Where ever possible I would learn and adjust to the other person’s culture to ensure that we communicate effectively and if I was unsure I would ask questions (not personal) and try to find out more.
Book: Heinemann work based Learning – Supporting teaching and learning in schools (primary) by Louise Burnham and Brenda Baker.
Websites: www.tafocus.co.uk/qcf-levels-and-units- QCF levels and units/Teaching Assistant Focus.