It is our students’ oyster. They have it in their hands. Which ever saying one chooses to use, our current students may one day change the world. I tell my students they have time to develop their dreams and find what they love so that they can institute change. For some, their dreams include stability and benefits; for others, their dreams are composed of making changes that can cross borders and improve lives across the hemispheres. It becomes my job to show them how they can prepare during their junior year of AVID.
This blog has been inundated with all things AVID, but this is only because I believe that college is for all students and student loans are not the only way to achieve a degree. With that being said, our AVID elective team has a great deal of curriculum dealing with critically reading, effectively writing, collaboration, inquiry, and organization. However, some of our hidden curriculum deals with how students communicate and interact in many discourses.
As Deborah Cameron discussed on adults learning language, “communication is emerging as the supreme value of language teaching, for first language users, as well as second language learners, then it is crucial for language teaching professionals to engage with questions about what kinds of communication are valuable” (Cameron 81). As the corporate world realizes that communication is of the utmost importance, we are attempting to instill some communication behaviors that we can make into habit for our students. Statements by Doreen Starke-Meyerring, show the need for our students to understand communication, “Regardless of whether professional communicators directly produce communication services or communicate as part of their work in other services, during the next few decades, they will likely experience the impact of global trade…” (Starke-Meyerring 473). With that being said, I want my students to be adequate speakers by the time the global market hits them.
To begin, we require our AVID students to dress professionally every Wednesday. We explain to students that their outward appearance “speaks” to people in career fields and scholarship panels. To make matters more difficult for our students, we are meticulous in how we critique them. We stress on the boys to iron their clothing, shave their faces, and to make sure their outfits are not too big. For our young ladies, we are constantly stressing modesty, our saying is, “if you look like you are going on a date, you’re doing it wrong.” During professional dress Wednesday, my classes are in tutoring groups with a college tutor. When a student stands in front of his or her group and explains his or her problem I monitor their posture, and what their posture tells a group. I feel that when a person is slouched and eyes wondering about the room, it communicates that the speaker is indifferent to what is happening. I have mimicked how students present without telling them what I was doing, and they asked if I was sick. Therefore, I ask students to present their information in a way that engages the audience, not question whether they are nauseous.
Another form of communication I work on with my students is the power of the first impression. This may sound cheesy, but I teach my students how to shake hands. This seems to disagree with some ideas of effective communication, not every culture shakes hands upon meeting. However, students need a foundation of how adults interact with each other, once they are acquainted with some forms, then they can transition into the global community. When we first practice, students seem to not be able to stop giggling. Then we discuss what that communicates to the person they are meeting, they soon realize that the giggling can make them appear as not taking the situation seriously, or that the giggling might make the person feel insecure. It takes awhile, but we go through eye contact, facial expressions, and pressure when shaking hands, and soon enough, my students are experts at executing a solid introduction. I received my proof when my husband stopped by my classroom to being me lunch and met one of my AVID students making up an assignment. When I introduced my student to my husband she immediately reached out her hand and exchanged a greeting. At home that night, my husband told me how impressed he was with my student. He does a fair amount of interviewing at his business, and many young hopefuls cannot properly greet a stranger.
Lastly, the one verbal communication technique that I attempt to convey is to move my students away from fillers. Students that abuse the words, “like,” “um,” “uh” and “actually”. I know that when we communicate, some fillers occur. Yet, it is distracting to listen to a presentation of, “Well, uummmmmm like…” When ever students present any information, we all try to avoid using the fillers, it takes practice, but my students understand that the more prepared they are for what they will be discussion, the less fillers they utilize.
To summarize, are my AVID students close to being prepared for globalization? No, probably not. However, I know that my students are learning important verbal and non-verbal habits of communication that will assist them in their future interactions with the outside world. Judging from the little feedback I have been given from the business world, my students are ahead of some of the competition currently in the corporate world.