I think the biggest aspect of my assessment as a communicator, was that fact that I was harder on myself than what my father and my friend were when they assessed me. Which made me realise that I was once again hard on myself, when I should not be, as the saying goes “We are our own worst enemy.”
With regards to insights I gained this week, the first would be how anxiety can affect our communication, as at times after giving a speech to groups of people or crowds of people, I often over analyze what I have said and talk to friends or family and recount parts of my speech that I could have communicated better and focused more on. Which personally and professionally I have now learnt to rather focus more on the positive aspects of my speech and how positively the audience reacted to my speech.
I further learnt how calm I actually am when someone offends or hurts me instead of being aggressive and reacting to them and most importantly how aggression or negative reactions to others affects effective communication. As a result, both personally and professionally I believe it is a skill to learn to be calm and not react negatively, which I thank my parents for teaching me this, as well as how my early years teachers consistently encouraged effective communication by role playing scenarios in the classroom which taught us how one can react but how we should rather react.
Last but not least I learnt that the most effective form of communication is when:
Having reflected on my communication with others from variety of cultures and backgrounds, I certainly do communicate differently. Just as I communicate differently to the people in my work place and in my personal life. In China I find myself communicating a lot through body language, facial expressions or short, simple, verbal sentences to those who have a low level understanding and communication skills in English. Or at times, I speak some Chinese words I know in order to show respect to the Chinese people I interact with. However in my work place, there is a more professional communication tone and jargon used by myself and my fellow colleagues , which many of the Chinese co-teachers or classroom assistants have learnt and understand now. With my family, communication is with love, respect and care, whereas communication with friends is more relaxed, jovial and some slang can be used in conversations.
Upon reading and learning more about effective communication, there are three communication strategies that I was reminded of:
The first is to be mindful of the communication that is taking place around you, how you communicate with others and how they communicate with you. Secondly, to try your best to communicate in a balanced and respectful manner, not only requiring effective communication from others, but making sure you communicate effectively and respectfully to others by understanding and getting to know them, instead of assuming you know who they are, what they want, need or deserve. Lastly, I learnt that one needs to be culturally sensitive, where your personal or cultural perspectives are neither true or right for all situations and people, as others hold different personal or cultural perspectives, which are neither true or correct either for you or others.
The video I decided to watch is an old sitcom that I have never come across or even watched before and it is called “Still Standing” I watched Season 1 and the very first episode. Upon watching this episode without sound, I was amazed as to how much one could read about people by looking at their non-verbal communication and this sitcom was about a family that consisted of parents, older son and daughter and younger daughter. The relationships seemed both happy, yet sarcastic, I saw a lot of masking that took place, where it looked like the oldest daughter in the beginning was overly kind to her mother and the mother looked at her with a smile but you could see, she knew her daughter was up to something. The relationship between the parents and the older children, looked like a typical teenage and parent relationship of ups, downs and distance, however the relationship with the younger daughter with her parents, was warm and loving, which the oldest daughter seemed jealous, as at one stage she towered over her little sister and pointed her finger.
When I watched the video with sound I did not assume too many things incorrectly, however I did assume incorrectly a part of the video, when they had visitors over, I thought they were friends, however it was the mothers sister who brought over her new boyfriend. I could see the relationship between the husband and the sister in law was strained and there was a lot of bantering back and forth between them. I did assume correctly that the relationship between the father and older son was strained and that the son was a bit of a ‘nerd’ and the father battled to identify with him, as the father seemed rough around the edges ‘a man’s man’.
To conclude I certainly thought this was an interesting experiment. If it was a sitcom that I watched often, I would obviously know the characters a bit more and assumed a lot more correctly if the sound was off. I was reminded that you can certainly tell a lot by looking at people’s body language and facial expressions, yet I also became empathetic, as I knew I was not assuming everything correctly and wondered how a person who has no hearing must feel. As perhaps they too assume things incorrectly and wondered how they must feel when they realise their assumptions are incorrect and may hurt someone in the process. I would not say I had an ‘aha’ moment as currently living in a country that does not speak English, I believe I have become better at watching non-verbal communication, as many of the children I teach are Chinese and I have had to learn to gauge their interactions relatively well without understanding them verbally.
The person I have chosen that I think is a competent communicator in his profession would be my father. My father is a Technical Sales and Marketing Manager. He is a competent communicator because;
- He has what they call ‘the gift of the gab’ his ability to make conversations with customers about a variety of topics and issues in the world is astounding and more often than not he gets business not by talking about work but about sports.
- His knowledge of the industry he works in is amazing.
- He took to heart what his father taught him, that there is an art to conversation and to form relationships and listen to his customers.
- He is warm, calm, clear, sincere, respectful and has a sense of humour that customers after a long day of work appreciate.
- He also cares for his customers and deals with complaints immediately.
I believe I do model and take after my fathers’s communication skills, as from a little girl he taught me how to communicate with others on a personal level and a business level, as I consider parents in my classroom as my “customers” because many schools are businesses and if their children are happy they will be happy too. I am calm, sincere, I consider myself to have an open and warm relationship with my children and parents and often told they appreciate that.
I continue to learn from my father and strive to be an effective communicator.
My hope is that I continue to be mindful and culturally-sensitive of what I think, say and do when working with children and families, as I believe that you can make or break children and families in an instant, especially when you knowingly or even unknowingly disrespect their family culture and their broader culture as a whole.
The goal I would like to set for early childhood educators around the issues of diversity, equity and social justice are to continue to work towards equity, fairness and justice and continually push against inequality and push for positive change.
To my fellow colleagues who have been with me in this module the last eight weeks, we made it, more dendrites in our brain grew, as our knowledge, empathy, understanding around the issues of diversity, equity and social justice grew. Keep on bringing about change in your personal and professional life in order for us to encourage the growth of a better and brighter society.
Most importantly I leave you with this, as I believe in this module were were given the:
The new child in my class that is about to arrive is from a country called Brunei. This country sits on the island of Borneo and is located on the north coast of Malaysia. The culture of Brunei is Malay and Islamic and is considered more conservative than Indonesia and Malaysia. Brunei’s official language is Malay but English is widely spoken as it is a compulsory subject in majority of the schools.
As a result of knowing the above, I would make sure that I:
- Know how to correctly pronounce the child’s name.
- I would read up on more information about the country, culture and the Islamic religion in Brunei and what are the general family dynamics.
- I would ensure that there are books in the classroom that the child could relate too, books that display diversity of religions and cultures.
- I would ensure that the above information I read and learn will be shared to the fellow teaching colleagues in my classroom and in my grade.
- I would prepare the children in my current class for the child’s arrival by reviewing our essential agreements of being kind, gentle, tolerant and respectful of others.
- Although the child may have a good level of English, I would also take the time to at least know a few words in the child’s mother tongue language, e.g. hello, goodbye, thank you, yes, no.
- Hopefully before the child comes to my classroom, I can have a sit down conversation with the parents, to find out more about the family, what they wish for their child and how best to make their child and them feel supported and welcomed, as well as what our expectations are for their child in our school.
I believe the above preparations will benefit and prepare myself and the staff around me to be more culturally sensitive, tolerant, respectful and open-minded. Furthermore it would prepare the parents and reassure them that their child will be well looked after in my school and classroom. It will also ensure them that we have their and their child’s interest at heart, which will create a clear, open and harmonious relationship for both parties from the beginning.
Having grown up and lived in South Africa for most part of my life and now Living in China for the last two years, I have certainly seen and witnessed oppression amongst those who are of a different skin colour or class. In China, there are many people who are becoming wealthier overnight, however what most people do not realise is that those Chinese people who live in rural areas are severely oppressed and looked down upon, especially when they migrate to the city to look for work and leave the family behind. The living conditions they live in are severely poor and neglected and the wages they earn are an embarrassment that companies should be ashamed and ask themselves if they could live like this too. To make it worse I came across a situation at school where a student in my class from the previous year was extremely rude to his bus buddy, which is the lady who takes care of the children to and from school on the bus. She is also a cleaner at our school and wants to earn extra money to pay for her daughter to go to university, so she asked if she could be a bus buddy too. Anyway this child that I had previously, who was taught by his father, who is German to treat Chinese people like pigs had turned around to her one day and said I am not listening to you on the bus, you are poor and dirty because you clean my toilet at school. Can you believe it?
As a result this kind cleaner and bus buddy, was hurt, upset and embarrassed that a child could say that and she certainly was not treated in an equitable manner by a child, which has learnt to treat Chinese people like this.
I on the other hand was certainly furious, disappointed and disgusted that this little boy said this and at the same time shameful that this white little boy who is a guest in her country, was so demeaning to a Chinese lady who is working hard to pay for her child through university.
I believe that in order for this incident to become an equitable one, if I was still this little boys teacher, I would call the parents in, explain that the behaviour in their child was unacceptable and question why he thinks that this is okay. I would also sit down with the child and explain that this attitude towards those who may be less fortunate than him is not okay and unacceptable too. I would ask the parents and the little boy to apologise to the cleaner/bus buddy lady.
If you were the teacher of this little boy, how would you handle this situation?
- What and/or who would have to change in order to turn this incident into an opportunity for greater equity?