I have always Zoomed and Skyped at work and done the occasional FaceTime, but in the past week I have spent A LOT of time on HouseParty, MessengerKids, GoogleHangouts, and Zoom. I have “HousePartied” with my friends on St. Patrick’s Day, and with my girlfriends from college on my BFF’s birthday. Maryellen and I held a Zoom webinar yesterday for 1098 teachers and specialists, and we have Zoomed with our friend and colleague in New Zealand many times. My 6-year-old daughter even got on “MessengerKids” (a Facebook app) yesterday and now video calls me on a whim, along with video chatting with her friends.
Social Communication is essential to people. Humans are social beings and our “social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk” (Umberson, D., & Montez, J. K. . Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. Journal of health and social behavior, 51 Suppl]Suppl], S54–S66. Sage Journals). Although there are some technical hurdles, I cannot imagine being in this type of “stay at home” situation without these technical means of staying in contact with others – beyond phone, text, email, and social media. Being on these platforms can be productive professionally and for distance learning. They can be engaging and also fun. However, we still have to pay attention to social norms and social pragmatics.
Professionals in the field of education and mental health know that some children and adults “have significant problems using verbal and nonverbal communication for social purposes, leading to impairments in their ability to effectively communicate, participate socially, maintain social relationships, or otherwise perform academically or occupationally.” The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) deemed this Social (pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD). For those students, distance learning and “distant socializing” might be particularly challenging. They will need instruction and modeling around this new mode of learning.
Pragmatics is one of the strands of oral language upon which Story Grammar Marker® is built. It is foundational to narrative development and being able to “tell your story.” Pragmatics is simply, “Who says What to Whom and in What manner.” It is defined as “the range of communicative functions (reason for talking), the frequency of communication, discourse skills (turn taking, topic maintenance and change requests for clarification), the flexibility to modify language for different listeners and social situations and the ability to convey a coherent and informative narrative” (Paul, Norbury, 2000, Language Disorders from Infancy Through Adolescence, p28 ).
When writing the Story Grammar Marker® Manual, and knowing the importance of Pragmatics to narrative development, Maryellen included a Pragmatic's Chart – and it comes in quite handy!
In relation to being on a video conference or video call, many aspects of this the definition of pragmatics as well as the points on this chart are HIGHLY relevant and helpful:
Please keep all of this in mind as our social interaction using these modes increases during our time at home during the COVID19 crisis and beyond. Share it with colleagues, students, family, friends and children. It is a great reference for all of us, as professionals and personally, as we ALL participate more and more in video conferencing, distance learning and "distant socializing."