Winter 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 13 of 43

TEXANS ON EDUCATION 14 ATPE NEWS TIM GREENWELL Principal of Lewisville ISD's Liberty Elementary School and Texas PTA Board Member Are Communication and Etiquette Old Fashioned? C ommunication between people is a dying, or maybe just severely injured, art form. Our world is filled with tech- nological devices that allow us to "chat" with one another without ever hearing the sound of a live voice, circumventing the longest standing style of communication—talking and listening. None of us are immune to this, but there are ways to combat poor communi- cation if we are willing to make the effort. Educators are often asked to teach both curriculum and char- acter education. Many teachers have no prob- lem doing this as they are well versed in their subject matter, grew up in a time when you had to talk to communicate, had quality role models, and are willing to take on the responsibility of assisting their students in becoming well-rounded, educated members of society. But despite their skills in the classroom, communicating with other adults can sometimes cause educators to have anxiety. Why is it so difficult to visit with another person face to face? It is amazing how many people are unable or unwilling to communicate directly with one another. A lot of energy is devoted to rumor and hearsay—almost always leading to some form of miscommunication that promulgates hurt feel- ings, a sense of being left out, and mistrust. When actual verbal communication does take place, respect and courtesy are often absent. Is respect old fashioned? Are we too short on time and patience to remember to be courteous? Has our use of electronic devices made that determi- nation for us? We all know better. Our parents taught us well and our teachers demanded respect. So what has happened? Where did we go wrong as individuals or as a society? Do we have the time, the need, or the willingness to improve our communication strategies? Family and school are still two of the best resources for modeling and practicing effective, respectful communica- tion. Kids can learn from adults, with parents/ guardians taking the lead and educators fol- lowing suit. Add to the mix coaches, mentors, religious leaders, youth volunteers, and employ- ers, and there are a lot of potential role models for students. Schools can do their part to help students develop communication skills by both providing character education and setting parameters for electronic device usage during the school day. Personal interactions be- tween school community members, students and staff, and staff and families, should occur through- out the day. A strong and consistent dialogue be- tween parents and educators benefits students by keeping everyone in the loop and helping both sides avoid surprises. Respect should be encour- aged and expected. So, parents and educators, it is up to you. It is important to initiate conversations that require talking and listening, to model examples of ap- propriate interactions, and to utilize electronic devices to convey your message in a respectful and meaningful way. Do what it takes to engage in respectful communications. You will be glad you did. FAMILY AND SCHOOL ARE STILL TWO OF THE BEST RESOURCES FOR MODELING AND PRACTICING EFFECTIVE, RESPECTFUL COMMUNICATION.

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