Talking about drugs in the classroom

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positve2.JPG (36310 bytes) Drug education is most effective when students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and asking a lot of questions.

  • Create a climate where students feel comfortable approaching you, expressing feelings and asking questions.
  • Give all students an opportunity to talk the quiet ones often have questions to ask but feel they do not get to share them.
  • Demonstrate your interest in the students and their concerns by asking appropriate questions.
  • Listen to everything that a particular individual has to say before formulating a response.
  • Always leave the door open for future conversations and communication.

Although it is essential that educators provide students with accurate facts about drug abuse and its side effects, prevention education also centers on listening. Listening carefully and really hearing involve the following:

  • Listen to the words being communicated, but also be aware of the non-verbal communication that accompanies these words. Non-verbal cues indicating feelings of fear, anger, or guilt are important for teachers to understand if they are to be truly helpful to their students.
  • Listen by paying attention. Looking directly at a student who is speaking is very confirming. It allows the student to believe what he or she is saying is being listened to, is important, and is being understood. Teachers need to be aware of their own non-verbal behaviors when they listen, such as frowns when they disapprove of something and smiles when they approve.
  • Listen without interrupting. Interrupting a person who is trying to understand or be understood or trying to express feelings about something very important, frightening or guilt-laden may result in a shut-down at the very moment when an unclear or undeveloped thought is about to be clarified.
  • Listen without judging. For students to learn through open communication, you must permit them to speak and listen when they are speaking. The very thoughts that might be responded to quickly in a negative, judgmental way may be of great concern to the student.
  • Listen without giving advice. Giving advice is often an easy way of dealing with a complex problem. Students attempting to cope with the many issues associated with drug use must examine each issue and may not respond to quick and seemingly easy solutions. Communication takes time; giving advice often short-circuits the process.

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