Communication at OAC

Getting used to online learning

Online schooling is a very different way to learn for most people and it is normal to feel anxious about communicating at first – even adults feel nervous speaking and communicating in class in the beginning.

Emily is a year 9 OAC student at the Marden campus. Emily has used her amazing talent to illustrate how the daily routine of saying “Hi” to the teacher can be a trigger for anxious thoughts and feelings.

“A few months ago, I wanted to tell my teacher how I feel during the lesson (we were in a well-being lesson and the teachers were telling us that we can tell them of any problem that we are having with class and stuff like that,) and I was like yeah that's a good idea, but then when it came down to sending the email, I just froze, and I felt embarrassed, so I deleted the email. Three months on and it is November (still hadn't told anyone)and I decided that a comic would be the perfect way to tell my teacher how I felt; It combined my art (which helps me calm down, and I get to listen to music which is the best during art.) I came up with the morning greetings that we do, and how I always stuff up in some way, whether it is that my mic is not near my mouth, I stutter, or I'm busy or distracted so I don’t hear my name being called and I feel really embarrassed. I wanted to show this with my drawing. I thought it would be easier to show someone how I felt instead of telling them, because sometimes there are just not enough words to describe the humiliation or embarrassment (I also knew people would relate to it).”

Emily learned to trust her teacher with her feelings. When asked why she trusted her teacher she said:

My teacher is sooo friendly. If I could go back to term 1, I would tell him all this stuff at the start of the year, so I didn’t have to carry all this pressure of worrying and stuff like that. Also if I could go back, I would love to tell him that he is the best teacher in the world, even if he does deny it. Whenever I have a question, he’ll help me, and even if I just want to share stuff, like my art, he’s okay with it. I actually taught myself calculus and matrices, and he’s impressed, and I’m like, well it’s because of you. You taught me all the math’s I learned this year, and I just expanded by learning different math’s (I hope this makes sense). Another thing is, No one knows my real personality, When I go into the lesson, I just freeze, and become a robot. If they were to meet me, I am funny (sort of), I love to talk what I’m passionate about, and I’m more caring than anything.”

Communication should get easier

Communicating with your teacher and classmates should get easier with time and practise. If it doesn’t, here are some things you can try:

  • Practise what you want to say in front of a mirror or with a trusted adult/friend.
  • Practise talking to lots of different people (in shops, on the phone when you order things, in the community). The more you face your fear in other settings, the more confident you will become communicating at school.
  • Record your voice and listen to it with a headset on-get used to hearing the sound of your voice through the headphones.
  • Use positive self-talk to give you courage e.g. “I am not the only one who might feel worried, I did it yesterday and it went fine so today will probably be the same, I don’t judge other people when they talk, so they are probably not going to judge me, even if I make a mistake”
  • Tell yourself about other times you felt fearful and how you overcame it. Read or listen to stories of how other people overcome their fears and worries.
  • Try goal-setting and aim for small, incremental steps. Praise yourself-or have others praise and cheer you on- for achieving each step.
  • Tell your teacher-they can help you reduce your stress when communicating in class.

If you’ve tried these things and they don’t seem to work, you can talk to your parents and/or the OAC Student Wellbeing Leader about a communication plan for learning. You could also try some of these links:

Communication Skills for Teens/Young People

Wellbeing tools for students

Is Online Learning for Me?

Reduce your stress and prepare for exams

Parents and caregivers wanting to support their children to communicate more confidently can contact their Student Wellbeing Leader, health professional or find out more by looking at these links:

Helping your child to develop communication skills

Children and Shyness

Communication Tips


Last updated: 02 September 2020