Did you know up to 90% of all communication is delivered through non verbal behaviour? The tone of your voice, the position of your arms, the expression of your face – it all matters when you engage, calm and most especially lead your students.
Great teachers use body language to communicate and establish rapport with students in order to make them feel safe and supported throughout their learning experience. A good teacher blends both verbal and non-verbal communication skills in creating a good relationship with the students, and this has a correlation to student achievement.
Body language gets your message across without having to say anything. Let your students trust you, and help create a supportive learning environment without looking that you’re trying too hard. You can do it!
Here are some suggestions on how to use body language in your classes in order for you to have nice, productive teaching experience.
Smile. Perhaps this is the easiest body language hack in the list! Your mood will change when you smile – your brain recognises the muscles you use when you smile and it will send out happy hormones and reduce stress hormones. It will also send out the message that you are encouraging. Refrain from frowning as it will convey anger. Nobody wants an angry teacher – or person, for that matter.
Establish eye contact at all times. This shows you are engaged, interested and always listening to students. Eye contact means you care. This establishes rapport and trust with your students.
Stand straight. Poor posture is not only unhealthy – it speaks volumes about attitudes, level of interest and respect. Never slump, and always tuck that tummy in. You will notice that your students will mimic your posture too, improving their attitudes and listening skills.
Avoid standing behind a desk, folding your arms, or use any barriers that hide you from your students. These behaviours imply that you don’t want contact with the class. You block your students (physically) making you seem aloof and unapproachable.
The whole classroom is your stage. Use the classroom to establish your presence. Walk around and move into their territory to show interest and nod your head to indicate approval when you pass by. This also decreases the incidence of students that are being off-task, as they want to be always ready to listen when you pass by.
Place your hand on your chin. This little trick indicates that you want your students to think before answering a question and you’re waiting for their answer. No need to remind them!
Wait. Do not rush students when they are answering a question. Relax and be ready to listen. This implies that you are ready to support them and you trust them with their thoughts.