Feedback and Assertiveness in Teacher’s Communication

In his interactions with the students each teacher is obliged to define the meanings of his ideas, processes and technologies. But the innovation part of the communication is a complex and fragile task. It largely depends on the individual skills and knowledge as well as on the communication style of those involved. Nowadays, the ability to communicate through innovative activities with students requires a third set of skills.

These skills are developed like the other skills which a very good teacher must possess. Communicating innovation means explaining new, often even complex technologies, processes or products, translating them into concrete and tangible stories that make children understand why they should get involved. Effective communication within class contributes to a good understanding within the team – which is absolutely necessary for an efficient activity.

Communication includes: the act of sharing ideas, opinions, what is communicated (information), the means by which the teacher and the students communicate, the social relations that take place permanently between the teacher and the students, consciously or not, through words, gestures. It can be communicated in several ways: verbal or written, non-verbal (through gestures), even through the way of listening, through the distance maintained between interlocutors, through the intonation of the voice.

Communication management is an activity oriented towards organizational efficiency in order to solve any problem that would prevent the students from fulfilling their tasks. Communication is present in everything we do in life and is essential to be able to work and live. Communication is defined as the transfer of information from an issuer (sender) to a recipient, provided that the same meaning of the content of the message is realized in the two subjects. Effective communication is conditioned by a common understanding of the message.

It is very important how we communicate, how much we communicate, how effectively we communicate: 75 percent of a work day we talk and listen, 75 percent of what we hear, we hear imprecisely, 75 percent of what we hear accurately, we forget in the next three weeks. On average, 75 percent of a teacher’s working time is consumed for communication.

Oral communication is the main form of communication. In a classroom, a very large part of the information exchange is done orally. The usual forms used in interpersonal oral communication include: teacher-student communication, student-student communication; presentation (exposition).

Written communication is suitable for tests, portfolios, mental maps, definitions and rules. The written message must be appropriate, adapted to the characteristics of the readers. Selecting the right words is the major component of adapting the message to the reader’s characteristics. In the category of the most appropriate words that serve communication are familiar words, that is, those used in everyday discussions.

Nonverbal communication is effective in communicating something complex, much more than selecting the right words. In a broad sense, nonverbal communication is generated by anything that conveys a message. In oral, direct, face-to-face communication, students and teachers convey messages through facial expressions, voice modulations, gestures and posture, called „body language”.
Facial expressions. If a teacher smiles, he is well-disposed and friendly, if he is frowning, he is indisposed and unhappy. Raised eyebrows are a sign of distrust or awe. Tight lips suggest anger.

Here are some tips for students, especially those in primary grades, to understand very well what you are doing and saying. Use simple words and phrases! Use short and familiar words! Make short sentences and paragraphs! Use the personal pronouns whenever possible and use it in the second person! Use illustrations, graphs, examples! Turn to the active verbs! Express your ideas logically and directly!

The voice, the timbre, the tone, the volume and the rhythm of the speech convey by voice attitudes – warmth, friendship, anger, anger, etc. Modulations and voice quality play a significant role in communication.

Gestures and body position. The positions and movements of the hands and body, qualified in a set of codes, generically called gestures, express a variety of psychic states or attitudes that are perceived in nonverbal communication.

The message conveyed by the position of the hands/ body. A hand on the mouth indicates objection, boredom, hands in the head indicate astonishment, despair, hands in the hips- anger, defensive, hands raised apart- distrust, entanglement, uncertainty, crossed hands- closed to communication, outstretched forefinger -authority, annoyance, reading.

The message sent by the position in the chair. Straight indicates interest, agitated indicates boredom, raised shoulders – indifference, ignorance. Often, the speaker is not aware of the gestures and the effects they produce. The excess in gestures distracts or becomes dull.

Feedback is another component of communication. It is a non-verbal or verbal response issued by the receiver confirming that he has received the message. The notification of these answers decisively influences the behaviour and the action of those who receive them. Feedback is the process of checking messages, of understanding their meaning correctly. The right way to obtain feedback from the recipient of the message, in the case of oral communication, is questioning and paraphrase. The most used way to have confirmation that the message being conveyed has been correctly understood is to ask.

People generally tend to ask questions because of the following three reasons:
1. They feel ignored. Either they have not been careful enough at the explanations or they are not quite able to fully understand the subject;
2. They are ignorant. They say: „I know little or nothing about the subject and I cannot judge whether the message is incorrect, incomplete or interpretable.” Everything seems correct because the subject is foreign to them and they do not know what to ask;
3. They have reservations about pointing out the speaker’s ignorance, especially if their future interests depend on the speaker’s position.

Another way to get feedback is for the teacher to ask questions after they have the message. The most appropriate way to check if the message has been received and understood correctly is to paraphrase, that is, to ask the student to reformulate the message in his own words.

Being one of the key elements of high performance, feedback should be immediate, as close as possible to the moment of performance realization, concrete and precise, focused on performance. Feedback should be focused on the task and not on the person. You distinguish between students and their performances.

A positive feedback produces effects superior to the negative one. The world around us is a mirror – all its reactions mean feedback and help us understand ourselves better.

Everything that hinders limits or blocks the transfer of information constitutes the barrier of communication. The barrier is an obstacle to achieving effective communication. They can produce unwanted effects or even generate blockages in communication. Barriers can be: interruptions, fatigue and stress, prejudices and personality.

One of the most important barriers is stereotyping. This is a „label”, an image that we form in our minds and that affects the way we receive information, to decode it or to transmit information in turn. Another barrier is also reactive language. It is advisable to turn it into proactive language, through which even some conflicts can be mitigated. Other barriers are: perception, emotions, confidence, listening difficulties, information overload, place and time, noises.

Perception is a semantic barrier that appears due to limits in the interpretation of the codes through which it is communicated. Usually, people, so teachers and students, tend to perceive the messages from their point of view. People’s emotions act as a filter in almost all of their communication. We see and hear what we are prepared to see and hear. Therefore, communication cannot be separated from the personality of teachers and students.

Trust in a teacher is determined by his integrity and by the way he communicates. Raising the level of trust requires open and honest behaviour in communicating with students.

An important barrier to oral communication is the inability to listen, often associated with premature evaluation of the message. There are many who speak and few who listen.

Assertiveness is the ability to express our emotions and beliefs without affecting and attacking the rights of others, without being aggressive or passive. Being assertive involves:

  • Saying NO without feeling guilty
  • Trusting yourself and others
  • Communicating personal opinions and experiences to others
  • Making compliments and knowing how to accept them
  • To recognize and respect the rights of others
  • It is everyone’s right to have their own values, beliefs or opinions.
  • It is everyone’s right to be accepted as imperfect
  • It is everyone’s right to say „No.” or „I don’t know.” or „I don’t understand.” or „I’m not interested.”

To be assertive means to tell those around you what you want, what you feel, what needs and preferences you have, in a way that helps you get positive feedback, and in the same time students will learn how to solve the conflict in a peaceful form from the teacher: „Say clearly and with a lot of confidence in yourself what you want, without threatening, without making the other feel inferior or despised.

Teacher creates his own universe in the classroom.  There are clear rules and what he emits is taken over, understood or not, but received by students. This illustrates one more essential thing: how to capture the students and the fact that the class will take part in interpersonal communication. If the model of approach to communication is not made, at the level of a teacher, through an assertive communication, the young person will not consider it worthy of exteriorization.

1. Croitoru, Alina– art.”Assertive communication: tell things by name!”,
2. Dumbrăveanu, Laura –art. „Communication, a problem of the Romanian society with roots in school?”
3. Hattie, J. (2012). ”Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning”, London: Routledge.


prof. Luminița Melania Dîngă

Liceul Teoretic, Ghelari (Hunedoara) , România
Profil iTeach:

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