The saying goes, “Look into a person’s eyes, and you will see their soul.” But what is it about the eyes that hold so much? Why do the eyes embrace so much emotion, so many feelings? The eyes, along with other body aspects, are able to communicate to people in ways our words cannot, for “eye contact is an invitation to communicate. If you look directly into a person’s eyes, […] they will respond in some manner” (Andersen, 2004). Albert Mehrabian (1967) stated that 55% of communication is body language, 38% of communication is tonality, and 7% of communication is the actual words that are spoken (Misunderstanding Section, line 2). Altogether, 93% of communication is unspoken words – what we use to give or withhold meaning from our words. Communication is a complicated, ongoing process of sending and receiving messages. These messages provide both implicit and explicit interpretations depending on the synchrony between the spoken word and the body language associated with it. Body language is defined as “the gestures, movements, and mannerisms by which a person or animal communicates with others” (Merriam-Webster, 2011). Knowing 93% of communication lies in unspoken word, teachers must put forth an effort to communicate through their actions and tone of voice, “Teachers should be aware of nonverbal communication in the classroom for two basic reasons: to become better receivers of students' messages and to gain the ability to send positive signals that reinforce students' learning while simultaneously becoming more skilled at avoiding negative signals that stifle their learning” (Miller, 2005). Teachers need to be more concerned about their teaching-learning situations because “the pattern of behavior of the teacher affects the pattern of behavior of the learner” (Clark, 1978). With this, teachers must focus on changing the learner’s behavior by changing their own behavior. By paying attention to nonverbal communication, teachers can better manage their classroom and the learners in that environment. One major aspect of body language is eye contact, “When you fail to make eye contact with someone, you are treating her or him as a nonperson and inviting that person to not communicate” (Andersen, 2004, p. 46). Teachers know that students respond to how they treat them. Therefore, when they choose to interact with them, they can help regulate behaviors by maintaining eye contact. In fact, eye contact from the teacher is the most important nonverbal behavior, for “eye contact shows confidence, controls classroom interaction, and enables teachers to read the body language of their students. […] Increasing […] eye contact dramatically improves motivation in the learning process” (Andersen, 2004, p. 42).
Review of Literature
In 1507, Leonardo da Vinci revealed his now legendary painting Mona Lisa. Studied by many and known by all, this painting was the first study to look at body language. It intrigues so many people because the painting is so complex, just like body language. The most interesting aspect of this painting is Mona’s smile. This smile portrays more than just one emotion. In addition, Mona’s gaze follows the viewer no matter the angle she is viewed from. There are many meanings and emotions hidden in this picture and that is why it arguably is the best-known painting in the world (Riding, 2005, lines 4-6). In his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin (1872) looked at how our emotions express our feelings and thoughts. Through his many studies, Darwin was able to prove that our expressions of emotions portray more than words. Darwin studied the eyes, nose, arms, voice, and many other body features in order to verify a correlation between body language and others’ perceptions. Often, our facial features correlate with our tone of voice in order to express a certain feeling, “The pitch of the voice bears some relation to certain states of feeling is tolerably clear”...
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