Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Communicator Theme

It's funny that today I will examine my Communicator Theme. Sometime during my low level Senior class, I found myself scratching my head in frustration because after walking two students through the assignment three different times, they turned in a final draft that was nothing like what I thought I had communicated to them. So here I sit, another tall glass of Red Zinfandel in front of me, trying to figure out why I am not succeeding this year as a teacher.

You like to explain.-- the communicator enjoys hosting, speaking in public, and writing.

I love a good story, but I am not yet as good at it as I want to be. A former Army Ranger attended the university I graduated from. During his time at the school, he gained a reputation as a story teller. I heard many of his stories more than once, and every time the story was told, it received embellishment. He was a communicator.
On my best days, I can hold my students captive with my ability to speak and take a "...dry idea and enliven it with images and examples." That came in handy today as my low level Freshman asked to take on the reading of Beowulf. I couldn't deny them the opportunity even while I knew they would struggle with the modern translation we have. But I pulled it off, today.
My gift of gab often gets me off track well before my students have the opportunity to bring me down the "bunny trail." I can't help but laugh at myself when I discover I am telling a story that relates in only the slightest way.

Driven for the perfect phrase.-- I need to capture my students' attention because I know theirs is shorter than mine. Often, I catch myself stumbling over myself for a moment as I try to select the exact phrase that will "pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act." Sometimes I feel like I preach at them too much as I try to convince these young men and women that there is power in words--even old ones. But I believe in the ability of "dramatic words and powerful word cominations" to change our lives. A few of my students over the last four years have picked that up and taken it to heart.

Ideas for Action: (suggestions for the Communicator)
1. Start a collection of stories or phrases that resonate with you. For example, cut out magazine articles that move you, or write down powerful word combinations. Practice telling these stories or saying these words out loud, by yourself. Listen to yourself actually saying the words. Refine.

Personal Response: I have always respected those individuals that have an anectode for nearly every point in life. I think of the Gospels and how Jesus used stories to make people think. We all love stories; it is part of our nature I think. And seeing as I've already used a religious reference, let me tell a quick story. I had an amazing professor at Northwest who once used the phrase--and I don't know if it was her own creation or not, but I'll give her credit--"the sheer lunacy of God" to describe how He keeps forgiving humanity. I will never forget that phrase.

2. Your Communication talents can be highly effective when your message has substance. Don't rely on your talents alone; take your communication to the level of strength by developing your knowlege and expertise in specific areas.

Personal Repsonse: A truth I need to take hold of. A lot of the time I just talk out of my ass.

3. You are gifted in fostering dialogue among peers and colleagues. Use your Communication talents to summarize the various points in a meeting and to build consensus by helping others see what they have in common.

Personal Response: Again, a truth I need to embrace. Currently, my school resides in a state of emergency. We are splintering in the storm of A.Y.P. I have a responsibility to reach out the factions and attempt to bring reconciliation. I can't say I have much hope for that, but I should be true to my talents.

I recognized long ago that I have command over my words which are powerful. The right word spoken at the wrong time can devastate someone. And that is my greatest fear as a teacher. To return to a Biblical reference, Proverbs warns against an unbridled tongue. At the moment, with these current students the least academic and least motivated I have ever taught, my tongue is struggling to break free from the bridle.


At 2:45 AM , Anonymous Debbie said...

Hey, Andrew.

Interesting reading these days.

Wish I could say I coined the phrase, but -- surprise! -- it belongs to Fred.

All hail Buechner.

And the sheer lunacy of God.

Love ya,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home