As a teacher, the success of your classroom experience relies largely on your ability to positively interact with students while disciplining those who are disruptive. Whether you teach kindergarten, middle school or high school, effective body language can help. Give your vocal chords a break with proven strategies for managing the classroom using authoritative body language.
According to the Center for Body Language, teachers should position themselves near the door when classes are starting and ending. This simple action sends a clear message that you are in control of your classroom. It encourages students to be more calm, quiet and respectful, setting the tone for the remainder of the class period. Stand up tall, be conscious of your posture and appear confident. As the class progresses, avoid staying behind your desk or table for extended periods, as this physical barrier between you and your students can create emotional barriers as well, preventing you from bonding with them.
Walk around your classroom regularly to establish your authority over the space. Whether you are lecturing or monitoring a test, walking confidently from one end of the classroom to another commands students' attention, ensuring that they stay focused and on task. If a student is chatting with another student while you are giving instructions, use your body language to subtly bring the student back on track, simply standing next to their seat while continuing to speak to the class. This avoids the potential conflict that can occur when singling a student out or raising your voice.
If you need to speak to an individual student about misbehavior or simply to offer guidance, bend down next to the student so you are eye to eye. This ensures more effective interaction and understanding. Teacher Michael Linsin, author of "Dream Class: How To Transform Any Group Of Students Into The Class You’ve Always Wanted," points out that eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with students. A single glance from across a room can send a quick message and longer eye contact can build rapport and trust between teacher and student.
Whether you are writing on the blackboard, using an interactive whiteboard or simply gesturing as you talk, keep your hand movements slow. Rapid movements give the impression that you are rushed, nervous or unsettled and this could be reflected in your students' behaviors. Don't hide your hands in your pockets or behind your back. Keep your hands in sight to avoid appearing distant or defensive. Similarly, don't cross your arms or place your hand in front of your mouth. Keep your hands at your side or use subtle hand gestures.
As a teacher, you are center stage, performing for a captive audience. The Center for Body Language advises that appropriate facial movements can be used to highlight how you feel about your subject. Use facial expressions to enthrall your audience. Showing your excitement over the learning process engages students in the discussion and inspires their enthusiasm. Of course, an irritated facial expression is sometimes necessary too, especially when a student is continually disruptive.
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