It’s Not Just the Message That Counts

This week I received two separate hard copy letters from students, and these, and an article, reminded me of the power of communication, and, more specifically, of the power of one’s approach to communication.

The first letter was from some Grade 1 pen pals. This relationship was not formally arranged but began when two Grade 1s wrote to me early last term, closing their note with a “P.S. Please Write Back.” I did, and continue to do so when each letter arrives. I am aware that their class is currently learning about letter writing: however, these notes started appearing long before. The letters always pose questions: “What do you do in your job?”, “What are you doing lately?”, and the most recent, “What is it you do on the weekends?” Not only do I muse at their curiosity, but I admire their confidence in writing these letters, dropping them off to my office and requesting a response.

The second letter arrived on Friday from the Grade 2 class who are learning about persuasive writing. They put their education to action in writing to persuade me that their class should be allowed to have a pet turtle. My favourite arguments are that, beyond teaching responsibility, “Turtles are entertaining…and we would teach the turtle fantastic tricks and make videos to share in assembly,” and “Turtles are slow and will teach us how to be patient.” I loved the girls’ thoughtful reasons, as well as the way they signed their letter: “Love the responsible, caring Grade 2 Class.” How can one say ‘no’ to that?!?

Communication- regardless of conduit- is fundamental to success in life. One must be able to connect with others, articulate ideas and information, and, equally importantly, listen. As women move into the workforce and seek leadership opportunities, research suggests that those who speak up and out can be perceived as aggressive rather than assertive. In an interesting article Jill S. Goldsmith suggests that balancing strength with style is an effective way to ensure communication is increasingly effective.

Our Clementines are learning important skills for the future. Effective communication is just one that is fundamental to their success. It is a joy to see this being developed at the earliest of ages and applied with confidence and excitement.