How can teachers use nonverbal communication (otherwise known as body language) to help their students know what you expect from them — and what to expect from you?
Learn how a simple nonverbal communication gesture (raising your hand) can help:
Read the transcript to learn more about body language for teachers.
Marcel approaches Miss Savant and says, “Quick question, Miss Savant.”
“Oh, hi, Marcel. Sure, I have a couple of minutes.” Replied Miss Savant.
Marcel continued, “I noticed your kids are good at raising their hands. How do you get them to do it?”
Miss Savant laughed and said, “Practice. I’m serious. When I want them all to have time to think, I put my own hand up and keep my hand in the air til lots of hands are raised. I try for about three-fourths of the class, not just the fastest two or three.
When I raise my hand, I never call on kids who speak out. I don’t even look at them. When I say, ‘Raise your hand if you know,’ and a child shouts ‘I know, I know!’ I keep my hand raised and take my other hand to put one finger over my lips, indicating ‘quiet.’
Some kids think so fast. If I let them, they can run over my slower thinkers or my deeper thinkers. This shows them that everybody’s ideas are important.”
“So you always raise your own hand?” Marcel asked.
“At first, yes, but it’s a process.” Miss Savant replied. “Early on I would say, ‘Raise your hand if you know,’ with my hand raised high. Then, when they’re getting into the habit, ‘raise your hand if you know,’ with my hand still raised, but not as high. Then I stop saying ‘raise your hand,’ but I still model it. As they got used to it, I could ask, ‘Who knows’ with my hand raised only halfway. On a good day, I can ask ‘who knows’ with my hand just slightly raised.”
Marcel clarified, “You want them to always raise their hands, right?”
“Not at all. Sometimes I want the high energy, where they speak out.” Miss Savant explained. “Then I do something different, where I’ll put both arms out to the side as an ‘open’ invitation.”
“Hmm, what about when you’re giving them new stuff, and you want your kids to watch and listen? Maybe take notes?” Marcel inquired.
Miss Savant replied, “Every teacher has a favorite way to let kids know, ‘I need you to listen up.’ The main thing is, you’ve got to show kids consistently what you expect. If we have not been really clear, my kids shouldn’t get in trouble for doing the wrong thing. My class knows when I put one finger over my lips with my other palm facing me, it’s my turn, ‘teacher only.'”
“Uh oh, my class is back, gotta go. We can talk later.” Miss Savant exclaimed. “Til then, take a look at the Raise Your Hand pages in your ENVoY book.”
Want to learn more body language tips for teachers? Check out part two of this post — the four C’s of classroom participation.
Discover nonverbal communication examples and strategies for teachers. Check out Michael Grinder’s book, ENVoY. Enjoy!