After completing my education, I hope to enter the field of foreign language education. In the education field in general there are very specific communication skills required. To be what would be considered a good teacher, one must have good public speaking skills, the ability to maintain relationships with their students, and be able to handle conflict well. These skills are essential to an educator’s success, without them, the classroom would be an unruly, chaotic group of students without direction. In the following paragraphs I will describe how and why the Conflict Theory is extremely important to an educator. I will also discuss the importance of relationships between students and teachers and the necessity of maintaining those relationships.
A foreign language educator, depending on the age of their students, can teach a range of subjects. A teacher working with younger children would focus more on basic ideas and principles of the language, such as colors, days of the week, short phrases or sentences, and a small amount of vocabulary, as well as cultural ideas and facts. As the age of the students increases, so will the amount of material covered. More grammar and vocabulary will be taught and more culture will be covered. Educators in the college and late high school setting will aim to improve the fluency of their students as well as the students’ appreciation for the language and culture of their focus.
Early on in their relationships with their students, teachers must establish a relationship that sets them as authority, but also as someone that a student can openly communicate with. Educators are a crucial part of a child’s development and attitude toward learning, so it is highly important that teachers stay positive with their students and cultivate a positive outlook in the students toward learning and how the students’ own ideas go hand-in-hand with their learning. As the material being taught grows more difficult, student frustration will grow with it. At this point, it is important for a teacher to seem approachable and open to students so that they can discuss any issues that may arise. One way to do this is to create a classroom environment that is not solemn, quiet, and serious. If a teacher engages his or her students in an interesting and humorous way, the students are more likely to feel as if they can approach their teacher with questions and any problems they may be having. While humor will lighten the mood of the classroom and make it less stressful on the students, it must be used wisely. If humor is used an excess, students may stop taking the class seriously and stop paying attention. Used in the correct way, humor keeps the students’ attention and makes learning the material easier and more relaxed.
Relationships between educators and their students are not only important while the student is in that teacher’s class, but as the student progresses further in their education. Teachers who are able to avoid conflict in their relationships with the students are often seen as sources of support and comfort and therefore enhance the student’s outlook on school and education. Closeness in the student-teacher relationship has been shown to correlate with higher academic achievement, fewer behavioral problems, and better social skills. Teachers can cultivate this type of relationship with their students by simply listening. Listening has four key parts for it to be considered effective: hearing, attention, understanding, and remembering. When this type of listening is utilized in relationships, they flourish and become closer and more positive.
However, if conflict and disagreements complicate teacher-student relationships, much is at stake. Conflict between a student and their teacher can be felt as a stressor for the student in their academic environment. This feeling of stress can often lead to a disinterest in school and the material that is being taught. Then, the disinterest can lead to poor academic performance (Buyse, 2009). Conflict between one student can cause the teacher to behave more negatively when the student is in their classroom, which creates a more negative environment for all the students and has an impact on those students’ perceptions of school and the material as well.
In summary, teachers and educators do more than teach students out of textbooks and curriculum. Educators influence their students personally through their relationships. If a teacher and student can communicate openly and a student feels that their teacher is approachable, then their outlook on school, and education in general, is much more positive. On the same lines, if a student and teacher have an unstable, conflicted relationship, the student is more likely to have a negative attitude towards their coursework, learning, and school. Students’ academic achievement rests more on than just an educator’s knowledge of the subject and on their communication and listening skills.