Modeling Oral & Written Communication Skills in the Classroom

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  • 0:04 Teacher Communication
  • 0:33 Modeling
  • 1:16 Mirror Language
  • 2:46 Active Listening
  • 3:20 Substantive Feedback
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we'll discuss relevant techniques for modeling appropriate oral and written communication skills in the classroom. We'll also explore what modeling means and how to use this approach to enhance student performance and participation.

Teacher Communication

Sara is new to teaching, but she's really skilled at open communication and empathy. This is a natural talent for her as a compassionate educator, and her use of effective communication is very valuable in the classroom. By modeling oral and written communications skills, she can teach by example, reinforcing these skills through practice. Let's take a closer look at the strategies Sara incorporates into her classroom in order to model these important skills.


Modeling means to behave in the way in which you wish others to behave. In terms of education, modeling is when a teacher demonstrates a concept, strategy, or behavior, and students learn through observation and then practice. This strategy rejects the old saying 'do as I say, not as I do' in favor of the idea of setting a good example to follow. Modeling is based on the perspective that people tend to speak and act similarly to those around them. There are several ways to mindfully and deliberately improve modeling the communication skills that Sara wants to incorporate into her teaching. These strategies have the added benefit of developing rapport, creating connections, and building compassion between the teacher and student.

Mirror Language

Humans have the interesting tendency to speak and behave in the same way others around them do. Mirror language is the conscious practice of taking advantage of this tendency and can be applied in a classroom by repeating back key phrases during a conversation to clarify meaning. Reframing what the student says in your own words can help ensure there is no misinterpretation. Students can then correct or confirm understanding as needed.

When people interact, they often adopt similar posture, body language and expressions to mirror each other.
image of friends conversing

For example, Sara is writing on the board one day when a student has a question. She stops writing and turns around to address the student face-to-face. Ryan, an enthusiastic student in the front row, asks her, 'What's going to be on the quiz Friday?'

Instead of just answering his question and moving on, she repeats it back to him in her own words to add clarity, 'It sounds like you want to know which chapters and assignments from this week we will cover on the next quiz. Is that right?'

Then Ryan has the opportunity to make a correction or reaffirm his own question; 'Yea, which topics do we need to know and is the quiz multiple choice or fill in the blank?' Ryan is able to further clarify his own thoughts while also feeling that he has been truly heard and that his question matters.

Sara uses mirror language to help understand what her students need and encourages their own incorporation of this strategy in their communication with others. She invites the students to ask for clarification and is always willing to rephrase or restructure her lessons as needed to provide better comprehension.

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