How I Use My Communication Degree in My Educator Career

Clay Scarborough
Clay Scarborough
High school principal; M.A. in Education, principal certification

When I left high school, I had three things on my radar for career possibilities. I was a weather nerd, fascinated by severe weather, so meteorology was a consideration. Since I was young, I would turn down the volume of baseball and football games on television and would do my own play-by-play broadcasting. And there was the thing I enjoyed the most, playing baseball and football.

Thus, as college neared, I had to narrow down my choices as to where I was going to earn a degree and potentially play collegiate sports. I was not a great athlete, but one that loved to play. The highest level of college baseball that recruited me was an NAIA school in the Texas panhandle. I was the model of a NCAA Division III athlete; a decent ball player who lacked the size and quickness of the division I and II athletes, and a pretty good GPA to boot.

My Path to Becoming an Educator 

I found a liberal arts school about 60 minutes north of Dallas, Texas. There I could play football and baseball and pursue a communications degree. After about one year there, I realized that I really enjoyed sports enough that coaching would be a career for me.

The college I attended offered a way to earn a master’s degree in education that you could earn in five years. It was essentially a minor in education and the degree you earned could go toward the certification field you would teach in the classroom. The opportunity was too great. I could coach the sports I love, get the degree I wanted, and see if broadcasting or coaching and teaching would work out first. The rest, they say, is history. The doors in coaching and teaching were opened more clearly than the broadcasting route.

I have been fortunate that throughout my life that I still worked as a Sports Information Director and the play-by-play guy in different situations, so I have been able to use my communications degree from the broadcasting angle.

But that was icing on the cake, as I was able to teach technology applications at the middle school level in the same town that needed a pitching coach at a local college. This marriage of location and jobs worked for ten years. Then I felt called into school administration, where I have been for the last ten and one-half years.

The communication degree covered everything from the technical side to the practicum side, to the public speaking side, and to the psychology behind communications. This gave me the tools I need to be successful in the classroom.

How a Communication Degree Helps my Education Career

Skills to Verbally Deliver Content

At one point in one of my higher education classes, I argued that it should be a requirement for anyone in the teacher programs to have one or two speech communication classes. The rationale was simple: as a teacher you must know how to deliver your content, know your audience, and have the pathos, logos, and ethos behind what you are teaching. There was no better place for these math, history, and science majors to learn how to take their content to their audience. This is what teachers do every day.

Maintaining an Audience

In many ways we are sages on a stage talking about math, history, science, computers, etc.
We must manage and maintain our audience and make sure when our students leave our class that they received the message we wanted them to receive. Speech classes cover this in great detail, and we practiced it, often.

Communication Psychology

There was the psychology behind communication. Things like having the background knowledge of your audience and how that impacts how they will interpret the message you are sending them. How to overcome common communication barriers with your audience was always beneficial. We need every edge we can get when delivering messages to middle school students and how they might interpret discussions.

Better Understanding All Backgrounds

Finally, in the end, the education world is a people-first world. The number of hours and communications you make with other humans who are your age, nowhere near your age, and have totally different backgrounds is something you do every day. Your audience also changes between students, parents, colleagues, board members, bosses, etc.

In every aspect of my education career, I was communicating. All of the tools I learned in my communication classes helped me in the classroom, to working with other people, and earning my speech certification.

In many ways, I have been more successful because of my communication background. From my classes doing the daily announcements live to the school to how I present information at board meetings now. The communications degree gave me the lens to help me navigate the education world — from students to adults.

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