By Vicki Ritts, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley
and James R. Stein, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
It is not only what you say in the classroom that is important, but it's how you say it that can make the difference to students. Nonverbal messages are an essential component of communication in the teaching process.
Teachers should be aware of nonverbal behavior in the classroom for three major reasons:
• An awareness of nonverbal behavior will allow you to become better receivers of students' messages.
• You will become a better sender of signals that reinforce learning.
• This mode of communication increases the degree of the perceived psychological closeness between teacher and student.
Some major areas of nonverbal behaviors to explore are:
• Eye contact
• Facial expressions
• Posture and body orientation
Eye contact, an important channel of interpersonal communication, helps regulate the flow of communication. And it signals interest in others. Furthermore, eye contact with audiences increases the speaker's credibility. Teachers who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.
Smiling is a powerful cue that transmits:
Thus, if you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable, friendly, warm and approachable. Smiling is often contagious and students will react favorably and learn more.
If you fail to gesture while speaking, you may be perceived as boring, stiff and unanimated. A lively and animated teaching style captures students' attention, makes the material more interesting, facilitates learning and provides a bit of entertainment. Head nods, a form of gestures, communicate positive reinforcement to students and... [continues]
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