Effective Communication

Some people have tremendous knowledge and abilities in certain areas, yet cannot teach what they know to others. Some think they are effective communicators, but the results prove them to be wrong. If a high school algebra teacher gave a test and all the students failed, the teacher would know that the methods used to impart that lesson had failed. A new approach would be needed and the subject should be taught again. If that same class consistently failed test after test, the conclusion must be drawn that either the students were not ready to take the course or the teacher is a bad teacher. Somewhere there has been a lack of effective communication, resulting in a breakdown of the teaching/learning process.

Communication is accomplished with words (spoken or written), with body language (movements, gestures or eye contact), and with action (showing the student how to do something). The way that we communicate often determines how effective the teaching process will be. Preparedness is essential. We have to fully know our material in order to properly teach it. Furthermore, we need an organized plan of how the topic will be presented. Attitude is equally important. If we are enthusiastic about the subject at hand, the person(s) we're talking to will quickly see that we truly believe in what we're teaching. The presentation itself must be geared towards the audience. An effective teacher has to be able to relate to their students. The use of stories, examples or scenarios that tie in to the life experiences of those being taught will peak interest and show that the teacher cares about and understands the needs of the students. Finally, effective communication requires demonstrative proof that what you are teaching really works. Chemistry formulas from a book or chalkboard take on a whole new meaning when tested in the lab. Base stealing techniques explained on the practice field are reinforced when they work in a game. Once the students see living proof that ideas and philosophies are practical and real, the credibility of the teacher rises and the door is opened for more in-depth instruction.

The negative side of this, also, applies. If a teacher has limited knowledge, is unprepared, has a poor mental approach, can't relate to their audience and doesn't get practical results, their credibility is lost and the doors of communication will close. Weaknesses in any of these areas can severely hinder the teaching process. There may be talking, but no hearing; there is perceived teaching, but no real learning.

     I Timothy 4:4-16 is God's instruction on how we are to be effective teachers of His Word and these passages reinforce everything mentioned previously. As Christians, we are not only required to grow in grace and knowledge (II Peter 3:18), we are mandated to teach others (Matt. 28:19-20). The key is learning to be effective communicators so that our teaching will be productive. I imagine all of us could improve our abilities in this area and should strive to learn to be more effective teachers.