It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Add managing the educational journeys of students to that mix, and things can get downright overwhelming. The thought of a note to be sent or a phone call to be made blips onto the radar for a moment and is forgotten, and once it’s finally remembered, it feels like the window for reaching out has passed. Sound familiar?
First of all, the moment hasn’t passed. If there was something positive to say, share, or do, don’t worry about a timeline. A kind communication window never expires. Second of all, the brief moment it does take to extend the gesture or share the thought can make a lasting impression on both the giver and the receiver. That positivity is also timeless. Positively reaching out to someone, whether the gesture is large or small, opens a line of communication, and a brick or an olive branch is applied to the building of a stronger relationship. This strengthening pertains to both personal and professional relationships. When the time is taken to positively acknowledge someone, that person feels valued.
One component of mindful communication is about making the time to act on those impulses of connecting with others. Has there been some buzz from students about a project they are enjoying in another teacher’s class? Shoot a quick email or make a point of sharing it when passing that colleague in the hallway. Is a movie being made based on a student’s favorite book, or another installment in a series being released? Jot a note at the bottom of an assignment or mention it as he/she enters class. Did a student master a challenging concept or handle a difficult situation well? Give him/her a real-time thumbs up and/or praise, and send the parent a short email or send a communication via the parent portal of the school’s LMS. Even if it’s a complement to a family in a restaurant for the politeness or patience of their kids, every time a person is mindful enough to positively act on what they are thinking, someone else feels seen, valued, included, and/or appreciated.
Another component of mindful communication can be finding ways to create connections. This can be key to building relationships with students, colleagues, and parents. There won’t always be that impulse that creates the opportunity for making a connection, and this is where a more mindful element is necessary. When educators are trying to build relationships, some active pursuit of connective opportunities may be needed. Be mindful of musical interests, character/sporting team accessories, recurring topics in writing and/or book choices, peer groups, choices during free time, etc. Pull something to get a conversation started or a line of communication open. It’s not necessary to identify a shared interest (although that would be great), but the key factor is taking an interest in something that is important to the other person. Another way to connect is by taking note of positive actions and/or efforts. This could involve a student’s positive handling of conflict, a colleague’s contributions to a committee, a student’s determination to master a concept, etc. Even if there are a sea of negatives, seek out a positive action and highlight it in communication to the student, parent, and/or staff member.
There are lots of reasons and ways to positively and mindfully communicate with others. The first step is identifying the impulse or connection to communicate. Then finding the time and choosing the method come into play. By taking 5 minutes somewhere at the beginning, middle, and/or end of the day, teachers can start putting mindful communication into practice. In those 5 minutes, make a phone call to a parent, send an email or text to a fellow staff member, jot a reminder on a post-it note to share with a student, and/or choose a fun notepad and designate it as a connection pad to write quick notes to positively connect with others.
When time is intentionally allotted for positive communication, the continual practice of these communications becomes second nature. Through this mindful communication, connections are built and relationships are created and/or strengthened. By acting on those impulses and determining ways to connect, teachers are creating positive learning communities where all stakeholders are recognized and feel valued.