Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
An important factor in developing as a professional is working on your communication skills. I have been able to identify my skills that are lacking, and even though I feel like I communicated well throughout my volunteering, communication skills can always be improved. According to (O’ Toole, G. 2008) “Ethical communication relates to appropriate behavior when communicating and it is necessary for the maintenance of harmonious productive and beneficial therapeutic relationships”.
From reflecting on my volunteering, I realized that on the first day I did not effectively communicate with the children. I did not consider the environment, the age group, and overall, the context as I was so nervous and so focused on making sure I was acting very professional and serious. This was not good communication as they were first years and I was speaking in a far too formal tone. Luckily, I kept a reflective journal and recognized my mistake, and did not have the same problem when first meeting my students in the second school. I quickly adapted to my surroundings and the age group of my students and improved my communication skills by modifying my language, conveying genuine interest and empathy, and freeing my mind before the start of each session so that I could give the students my full attention. Even though I acted too formally, I can justify my actions because of the preparation talk we received before Homework Club which was a warning to take the volunteering seriously and to commit fully to the program. program very nervous as it was my first time volunteering and wanted to make a good impression on the teacher. When I was dealing with Junior Certificate students, I do feel like I was overcomplicating their work for example when helping them with their Irish I may have been using words that they would be unfamiliar with because I had just finished my higher level, Irish, leaving cert course and it was still fresh in my head. Just because it seemed so simple to me, I guess I forgot the level of Irish a Junior Cert would know. This is something I need to improve on going forward, to remember and be aware of my client’s capabilities.
Not only did I improve my verbal communication skills, but also my non-verbal which enhances my professional development. From participating in homework club, I feel like have learned about effective listening, a skill that I was lacking. “Effective listening requires an understanding of more than the words being spoken, it also requires an understanding of the emotions expressed” O’ Toole, G. (2008). On reflection, I can see how this skill strengthened throughout my time volunteering and how I effectively used this skill in various scenarios. For example, I had one student and at first, I found it difficult to tell if she was quiet/not making conversation because she was shy or if it was because she just wanted to focus on doing her homework and that talking to me was just slowing her down. But like I said, through developing the non-verbal communication I realized that she was just very shy and needed that extra bit of time, effort, and reassurance as some loud personalities in my group didn’t allow her to talk.
In conclusion. Through volunteering I have come to an understanding of the benefits of effective listening both being able to read it and practice conveying professional non-verbal communication.