How Communication Styles Affect Student Retention 


Maddie Woodrow

March 9, 2023

    How Communication Styles Affect Student Retention 

    Schools are bustling with communication and conversations. Students talk with their friends. Teachers give lectures. Faculty and administrators have meetings. As an essential aspect of education and learning, you can optimize communication to improve the student experience at our school.

    The Importance of Healthy Student-Teacher Communication

    Teachers take on several roles in the classroom. Apart from sharing knowledge, they are role models for behavior, robust resources for learning, and leaders who aid in a student’s development. Teaching goes beyond grammar and math. Their communication efforts impact students in several ways, including:

    • Demonstrating how to communicate: Teachers lead through demonstration. While they can use practice problems and examples to teach the subject material, their communication methods also help teach students how to speak and interact effectively. Teachers that use positive and proper communication methods frequently and repeatedly help show students how to do the same.
    • Forming positive relationships with learning: How teachers speak with students and communicate with classes can impact students’ motivation to learn. Positive communication methods can increase motivation and help students develop a good relationship with the school, encouraging them to keep learning. Strong communication and motivation can keep students engaged in their studies and future.
    • Helping form essential social and emotional skills: School is where many kids and teens can learn and practice social and emotional skills in a safe environment. Teachers can demonstrate empathy, listening, and trust in classrooms and during individual interactions to provide students with basic skills they implement with their peers and at home. Teachers use various communication methods throughout the day, allowing students to learn through observation and practice with those at similar emotional and social development levels.
    • Creating the right learning environment: How teachers communicate and relay information to students can create an environment that supports learning above all else. Their body language, words, and tone will all contribute to building a specific learning environment designed to meet their students’ needs.
    • Handling sensitive issues: Teachers must also respond to feedback and concerns. Whether they are talking to parents or students, teachers might have to address lower grades, social issues, or behavioral problems. They will need to convey issues sensitively while remaining professional and empathetic. Many teachers also offer solutions to problems and can provide guidance to struggling students and parents.
    • Improving retention rates for education: At private schools, students and families can choose to reenroll each year. Unsatisfactory results or education might cause them to leave and invest in other schools. Your teachers and their communication skills can help students form better connections with faculty and their education, helping them find a place in your school community.

    The Importance of Healthy Student-Teacher Communication

    Teacher communication skills go beyond students. They work with faculty, administration, and parents to help every student succeed. Their practical communication affects everyone at school and creates environments where students want to learn and parents and faculty trust their skills.

    4 Tips for Effective Communication From Teachers

    You can implement various tips into the classroom when determining how to better communicate with students. Optimizing communication and the interactions between teachers and students can encourage kids to look forward to their education and show their parents the value of their investment in your school.

    1. Practice Positive Non-Verbal Communication

    Teachers convey information in many ways, including gestures and actions. Students pick up on subtle movements and facial expressions, helping them interpret tone and situation severity. Your teachers can use their body language and other non-verbal cues to develop an effective learning environment and strong relationships with students. Some ways your teachers can optimize non-verbal communication include:

    • Keeping arms uncrossed: Open body language is vital when creating a supportive and safe learning environment. Uncrossed arms and legs show that teachers are welcoming and inviting, allowing students to feel safer approaching them and trying new things.
    • Moving throughout the classroom: As teachers work through lessons, pacing throughout the classroom can help remove the barrier between them and students. When students feel more connected to teachers and the classroom space, they can better connect with their materials and form stronger relationships with their teachers. Movement can also keep students engaged during lectures as their eyes track how their instructor moves throughout the room.
    • Smiling and nodding: Teachers should also be aware of what they convey when students are speaking or working. Their facial expressions and movements should be positive, helping create a supportive and positive learning environment. Smiling and nodding as students talk can help them feel safer expressing themselves and encourage them to share their thoughts. These motions also show students that their teachers are listening.
    • Speaking at eye level: Teachers often work with students individually, helping them with classwork or approaching them with problems. Teachers can positively impact students in these situations by working with them at eye level. Standing over them or at a distance can create a power dynamic where students perceive themselves as lesser than the teacher, making them less open to help and learning.

    When simple gestures and movements can influence student perception and learning, speaking with your teachers about non-verbal communication can help strengthen and improve student retention. Students can feel safer and more respected in the classroom with the proper non-verbal communication methods, encouraging them to return each year.

    2. Leverage Positive Feedback

    Positive feedback is a powerful communication method, helping boost motivation and confidence in students. Because school is about learning, students often make mistakes or get questions wrong. While being wrong is a part of learning and improvement, continual mistakes with little encouragement can hurt the student’s self-esteem and relationship with their education.

    Continual positive feedback can help students and teachers identify strengths in the classroom and celebrate what makes each student unique. Students can better understand that they are more than their mistakes and errors and feel encouraged to keep improving.

    However, when highlighting the importance of positive feedback, you should emphasize that teachers should use it sparingly as a reinforcement method. Too much positive feedback can cause it to lose its effect and feel ingenuine.

    Demonstrate Active Listening

    3. Demonstrate Active Listening

    While many people focus on the speaking aspects of communication, listening is a crucial aspect. Your teachers can help students develop respectful and effective listening skills by practicing active listening throughout lessons. Strong listening skills in students can help increase lesson retention so that they can perform better on homework and tests.

    Teachers can demonstrate active listening by:

    • Checking for comprehension: As teachers work through lessons and lectures, they can ensure students actively listen by periodically checking in. These checkpoints might take on several forms, like asking if students have any questions or posing a specific question to students. Students can reflect on information and identify places they don’t understand.
    • Asking questions about student ideas: Active listening can encourage students to reach out when they don’t understand something, but it can also help them learn to express themselves clearly. When speaking, teachers should ask students what they mean by their comments and questions, encouraging deeper thinking and connection with the subject materials. Students can become more engaged with their thoughts and converse with teachers in a discussion. It also allows teachers to ask for clarification in a safe and trusting way.
    • Building on their ideas: As students share their thoughts, teachers can contribute to discussions by offering new interpretations and connections. An active listening technique shows students how to make connections and analyze material presented in the conversation for stronger communication skills. It also brings more depth to student ideas, encouraging them to continue thinking about their interpretations and questions.

    Active listening helps students feel heard in the classroom and shows them how listening and thinking contribute to overall communication. Cultivating communication skills can help teachers provide better education and develop meaningful relationships with their students.

    4. Encourage Humor

    Teachers can foster increased student retention by forging lasting relationships with their classes. When working through lessons that might make it challenging to connect with each student, teachers can use humor to establish trust and become more relatable. Teachers can integrate jokes and humor into the classroom in several ways, including:

    • Sharing funny anecdotes about their personal life or past teaching experiences.
    • Creating puns and jokes based on the present content.
    • Using internet culture and memes.
    • Relating content to pop culture events.

    Humor can help make connections between what students are learning and the outside world, but it can also help students see their teachers as people rather than instructors. When their teacher cracks jokes and makes learning fun, students might feel more comfortable approaching them with casual and serious topics. Laughter can also reduce stress, so students can become more comfortable in their classrooms and better focus on their lessons. Taking small breaks lets students refresh and take a break from learning, even if just for a moment.

    However, the humor should always be good-natured. Ensure teachers understand that jokes or stories should never be at the expense of a student or include humiliation. These situations and other types of jokes can make students feel unwelcome and unsafe in the classroom.

    How to Create a School Communication Style Guide

    Because there are so many teacher communication styles and types, you can streamline student, teacher, and family interactions by implementing a communication style guide. The style guide tool can unite communication goals and methods across grades, departments, teams, and audiences, creating more effective communication efforts.

    Segment Various Audiences and Personas

    1. Segment Various Audiences and Personas

    Your school and teachers will communicate with various audiences. From prospective students to board executives, your communication methods and goals will shift depending on who is speaking and who they are speaking to. Outlining your audiences and their needs can help you optimize and tailor communication efforts.

    At this stage, you can create various audience personas, making generalized statements to help you understand your different segments. For example, you might make one for your existing parents. You will list their ages, desires, goals, and motivators. Even breaking down the different parent generations can help you understand how best to communicate with them.

    2. Outline Your Voice

    After separating and understanding your audiences, you should determine how you want to sound when talking with them. Because communication with students and parents is ongoing and constant, using a style guide can make your voice more consistent across interactions. Your style guide might include some adjectives that capture your voice and tone. Some common examples for schools include:

    • Supportive
    • Welcoming
    • Knowledgeable
    • Friendly
    • Inclusive

    Establishing your voice and tone can help teachers tailor their specific strategies and language when working with students and families for more effective communication.

    3. Determine Communication Methods

    Because there are many ways to contact and interact with your audiences, you can streamline communication efforts by outlining which ones your school will focus on. You can even go a step further and assign each method an audience, helping further specify voice and goals with your content. Some standard communication methods for schools include:

    • Emails
    • Phone calls
    • In-person meetings
    • Progress reports
    • Newsletters
    • Blogs
    • Facebook groups
    • Twitter
    • Flyers
    • Acceptance letters
    • About pages

    Your teachers can better determine how communication affects retention in your school by understanding how they interact with and influence students and families.

    4. Provide Examples for Various Methods

    A style guide can be an excellent resource for your teachers, but you can increase effectiveness by providing teachers and administrators with examples of communication. Include sample emails, blogs, newsletters, social media posts, and other written and spoken interactions. As your staff implements your communication style guide, they can refer back to these examples to ensure they’re meeting your standards.

    5. Accept Feedback

    Your style guide might need to undergo several rounds of revision or updates to reflect the actual needs of your audiences and school community. After publishing the communication style guide, consider holding meetings or sending out forms to collect feedback from the individuals implementing your style guide daily. They can provide essential insight into what communication strategies your audiences respond to well and what might need more workshopping.

    Because teachers work with students daily, they might have experiences that can contribute to expanding and refining your style guide. They can offer communication strategies and methods that worked well for them, help create templates and examples or add to your voice.

    Streamline Student and Family Communication With Ravenna Solutions

    Streamline Student and Family Communication With Ravenna Solutions

    Teachers and administrators are central communication tools, but they have many responsibilities. When communication is essential for maintaining student retention and engaging new applicants, investing in the right tools and resources can help teachers and staff give more to classrooms and other necessary tasks. Ravenna develops customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions for private and independent K-12s, so you can streamline communication efforts and create stronger future campaigns.

    Ravenna ADMIT has many automated communication features, helping optimize interactions with your school for better impact and positive associations with your brand. It will send out emails and notifications to families based on their place in the application, encouraging them to complete it or reminding them of upcoming deadlines. You can customize these messages to align with your style guide standards.

    You can request a demo today and find out how Ravenna can help you foster stronger student, family, and school relationships for increased student retention.

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