At the beginning of the course, we asked the participants what their expectations about the training were.
“How to capture the attention of the audience/class?”
“How to plan and prepare a public speech?”
“How to understand the emotions of the students?”
“How to manage a conflict?”
Answering these questions, and many others, was the aim of the teachers participating in the training, which took place from 25/07 to 31/07 in Palermo (Sicily) on public speaking, communication and soft skills.
To achieve these goals was challenging, but thanks to the contribute of each participant, and thanks to the experience that each teacher brought within the group, the content of the course was enriched by the added value of everyone, creating an exchange of strategies and useful tools for classroom management.
We started our journey from discussing the importance of soft and communication skills and how, as teachers, we all have a crucial role in offering to our students the possibility to improve their communication and soft skills. We analysed the most important principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and in particular the Watzlawick's axiom that say that “one cannot not communicate”, infact every behavior is a form of communication. Behavior does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behavior) so it is impossible not to communicate. Even if communication is being avoided (such as the unconscious use of non-verbals or symptom strategy), that is a form of communication. Even if we’re not speaking infact we’re “speaking” with our body language. Participants discovered that only the 7% of our communication is represented by our spoken words meanwhile the 38% of the information is given with our tone of voice and the 55% with our body language.
Like the participants told us, sometimes at school it is difficult to capture students’ attention and motivate them to improve themselves. Guess what? Communication is essential to identify learning’s obstacles and to promote the continuous growth of the students. As we found out together, listening to students’ emotions is the first step to help them to identify new, more constructive and motivating beliefs. For this reason we’ve analysed as well the principles and pillars of emotional intelligence and emotional leadership. In particular we focused on the concept of empathic communication and its 4 elements: see their world, appreciate them as human beings, understand feelings, communicate understanding.
Participants had the chance to discuss and practice the differences between aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive communication, getting acquainted with the principles of the latter. The participants created a vademecum with the main verbal features of each communication styles (aggressive, passive and assertive). An activity, like many other done during the course that can be replicated and used in the classroom, in this case to define appropriate classroom communication guidelines.
Furthermore, one of the aims of the training was to recognize the different communication channels (verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal) and to be able to manage them productively. Communication is not only about what we say, but also how we say it. The participants learn which mistakes to avoid with their paraverbal and body language communication in particular when delivering a speech. They moreover had the chance to participate in an intensive body language training in order to be able to decode the body language of their audience in addition to be aware of their body language when speaking in public.
During the course the participants learn how to prepare and structure a public speech and especially how to engage the audience.
To work on public speaking the participants were asked to prepare a public speech about a free topic. This exercise was crucial to analyse together which kind of communication strategies each participant used, and their effectiveness in communicating and capturing the attention of the audience. Analysing the body language was the hardest part! In fact, we often focus too much on words, overlooking our body language, risking to send the wrong messages. The participants delivered a 2-minutes public speech that was analysed by the whole group with the support of the trainer. This activity was highly appreciated since gave the participants the possibility to receive personalised feedback on their specch from both the other teachers and especially the trainer.
At the end of the training the participants had the chance to discuss about conflict management and discover how conflicts could be full of beauty and opportunities. The participants identified which words and phrases instigate and defuse conflict and how to speak responsibly in a conflict. The participants learn as well the 3 keys to effective conflict management and the 5 styles to manage a conflict.
There was no lack of cultural activities, the participants had the chance to discover the artistic and colorful landscapes of Palermo, Cefalù and Monreale in addition to networking among themselves and to building a multicultural team!
This training week was an opportunity for the teachers to become aware of them strengths and weaknesses, to improve themselves and to enrich the relationships network through intercultural exchanges.