Sunday, November 12, 2017

ANCHOR Communication

Looking at How We Talk to Students From a Written Perspective

Dear Readers,

I have always loved Beth and Shelley's ANCHOR Conversations. I have been using them the past few years with students, colleagues and administrators. It always warms my heart to see them hanging by the person I gave them to. However this year I have found an even more meaningful use for them.

As someone who is extremely private, I have always been a close keeper of my emotions and tend to not talk about what is bothering me. It has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is I am really good talking about difficult topics and can handle stressful situations. The curse is, sometimes I am too removed from situations and have a hard time letting people in.

A few years ago, when I was going through my admin program, I remember talking to administrators and how when faced with traumatic events, they had to be the support and strength for their parents, staff and students. However, they needed to find that balance of being strong for others while also being kind to themselves and making sure they got what they needed as well.

I think we all have those times in our lives, some more than others, when we put up a front masking what is really happening inside. It might be pushing others away, coming across as angry or isolating ourselves. On the other hand it might be smiling, laughing or chatting with everyone as though all is well.

As adults, we develop coping skills and strategies to deal with what life throws at us. As teenagers, our students do not yet have those capabilities. They are growing academically, mentally, socially, emotionally and physically. Not all of them have the support and care from adults in their life to help them manage the barrage of emotions and information they sort through on a family, if not minute by minute, basis.

This year, I have found the ANCHORs as a way to communicate with students in a more non-confrontational and quieter way. When emotions are running high, I feel as though some of my students sincerely cannot hear what I am saying, positive or negative.  Consequently, when I try to help them make positive choices, and they are feeling vulnerable, they do not always interpret what I am saying as caring and supportive.

The ANCHORs have allowed me to write to them and communicate with them in a low-risk format. Students who have been upset with me, after reading them, will approach me calmer and more willing to listen.

Thank you Shelley and Beth for this idea that has become a staple in my instruction.