IB Learner Profile Exploration Series – Session 8: Communicator

How to do we define a “Communicator”?

On the official IB website, the definition for a “communicator” refers to those “who understand and express ideas and information confidently in more than one language.”

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Grade 10 student Hector V. is a BIBS IB Learner Profile award winner. From his standpoint, a communicator is a person that can speak with everyone. BIBS MYP Coordinator Mr. Terry Linton takes that further: “As part of the IB mission and vision and our own school values, we agree that being able to express yourself in more than one language is an important ability. We also believe that confidence comes from practice therefore we provide ample opportunities for students to develop their presentation skills.” In short, a communicator collaborates effectively and listens carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

The Value of Communication

Well-known American psychologist Rollo May said: “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”

Mr. Linton, in thinking beyond the classroom, noted that in fact all job descriptions have the element of communication in them. That is, all employers want their employees to have effective communication skills. “Even as an adult and a teacher, I am still working on developing my skills. Communication is a critical element, whether we are in an interview, selling a product, or writing an article. Every job ad I have ever seen includes the concept of communication. In our failed interpersonal relationships, most of them could have been saved had there been more effective communication.”

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Hector V. originally comes from Ecuador, speaks Spanish and English very well, and is now studying Chinese. He has been a great communicator, both in class and at school events. For instance, when Ecuador’s Ambassador visited BIBS, Hector addressed the Ambassador confidently as a BIBS student representative. On St. George’s Day, Hector delivered a famous classical poem and even wrote one himself. During the MYP Celebration of Learning, he created an episode of a TV show for his Personal Project showing cultural differences around the world. As Vice President of the MSHS Student Council he also benefits from communication. He believes communication is really important – it helps you understand things better while at the same time helping you make people understand you better.

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Learning Communication Skills at BIBS

Since communication is so important, how do students learn to communicate effectively at BIBS?

“We regularly teach communication as part of our approaches to learning ” notes Mr. Linton. “We provide students opportunities to express themselves with written, visual and spoken forms. Those can include presentations, essays, projects, posters, websites, social media and so on. We also explain to students that sometimes the words you choose not to speak also communicate a message. As well in drama, students are taught that their body language can communicate messages and to be aware of this in their own communications. We also assess student’s communication ability in our reports and provide some feedback to students on whether they are exceeding expectations, meeting expectations or below expectations. It is important that students develop two-way communication with teachers and we encourage students to email us if they are having problems or concerns outside of school hours.”

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Besides what is taught in school, there are many ways we can practice communication skills in real life: we use social media to communicate with friends; we learn how to think, listen, speak and even how to communicate non-verbally. Malcolm Quillen once said: “A wise communicator not only says the right thing at the right time, but also refrains from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person under the wrong circumstances.”

Good communication leads to success: As we grow we must improve our communication skills every day – making friends, helping people, working, collaborating. Communication is not only a goal of an IB education, it is key to a better life.