What is Nonverbal
• “Nonverbal communication is any communication that occurs
between people, usually within each other’s presence, by means
other than spoken or written words or the signs of a sign language”
(Rowe & Levine, 2009, p. 325).
• Nonverbal cues affect how a student views their teacher and how
well they are able to comprehend the information.
• Nonverbal cues allow teachers to analyze their classroom, to
reflect upon their own teaching abilities, and to get better
acquainted with their students.
• Kinesics refers to posture, gestures, and walk.
• The way in which a teacher stands, moves around the
classroom, and uses gestures to accompany verbal messages
can show authority.
• Gestures can accompany, replace, add, and clarify teachers’
• For the majority of time, the students are sitting while the
teacher is standing. This demonstrates the power the
• Mehrabian found that people perceive others who lean
toward them as having a more positive, warm attitude and
having more of an interest in the conversation (Knapp, 1971,
• A teacher who is leaning back and is positioned away from
the student may show disinterest in the topic or a dislike
for the particular student.
• The movements of the head (i.e. nodding) also accompany
the feelings of interest or disinterest on the part of the
• Use gestures carefully to ensure the correct message is
• Nod head when talking with others.
• Use hands and arms to gesture when talking.
• Use gestures to add to or replace words.
• Calmly move body around when talking.
• Relax body posture.
• Use American Sign Language or other hand signals to
facilitate classroom management.
• Facial expressions are used to express emotions or affect
• Of the 93% of nonverbal cues used in communication, facial
expressions are said to make up 55%; therefore making
them the primary source of information (Miller, 2005, p.
• Teachers portray a number of facial movements and
expressions without awareness (i.e. raised eyebrow,
wrinkling the nose, and rolling the eyes.)
• “When there is a contradiction in the message sent, people
tend to believe nonverbal cues over verbal cues. Teachers
need to be aware that even unintentionally, they are
continually sending signals to students that indicate degrees
of interest, enthusiasm, engagement” (Stanulis & Manning,
• Animate face.
• Use smiles when talking and as positive reinforcements.
• Use frowns to show displeasure.
• Use facial expressions that communicate interest about
questions and concerns.
• Understand students’ affect displays in order to know how
to respond to them appropriately.
• The eyes can be referred to as a component of facial
• Eye contact is a main indicator of how open the lines of
communication are between the teacher and the class and
how well the students are absorbing the material.
• People tend to look longer at things they like and less at
things they dislike.
• Maintain eye contact and greet students, staff, and other
educators in the hallway to demonstrate respect and build
• Establish regular eye contact with individual students and
the group as a whole to communicate honesty and openness.
• Establish frequent eye contact with every student to
ensure they’re attending and understanding the lesson.
• Maintain steady eye contact and focus entirely on what the
student is trying to communicate.
• Recognize that some students’ cultural heritage might
prohibit them from making eye contact with an authority
figure, especially when they’re being reprimanded. (Hansen,
• Physical appearance includes: body shape, height, weight,
hair, skin color, attractiveness, and clothing.
• Physical appearance suggests a lot about a person such as:
gender, age, socioeconomic status, role, personality, and
• In 1973, Dion determined that notions of physical beauty
start at a young age. “Preschoolers and young elementary
school children have the same behavioral stereotypes
associated with appearance as do adults and prefer
unfamiliar attractive peers as potential friends, while they
dislike unfamiliar unattractive peers” (Langlois & Downs,
1979, p. 409).
• Society helps people form their opinions about what is
acceptable in certain situations.
• Be aware of the negative assumptions that can affect student
• Change behavior to avoid showing bias to certain students based
on their appearance.
• Wear clothing that articulates professionalism, confidence, and
• Touch is one of the most primitive forms of communication.
• From an early age, children learn a lot about their
environment through the sense of touch.
• “Research has shown that younger children tend to learn
significantly more when teachers exhibit touching…” (Miller,
2005, p. 29).
• Many teachers are afraid to touch their students because
of its sexual implications and negative connotations.
• “Teachers can use appropriate touching to communicate
affection toward their students and to establish a caring
classroom community. Positive, appropriate touching
demonstrates that teachers care about students’ well-
being,” (Hansen, 2010, p. 40).
• Ask students’ permission before touching them.
• Give them a choice then offer encouragement and support
– pat on the back
– fist bump
– high five
• Limit touching to the students’ heads, shoulders, hands, and
• Leave the classroom door open and avoid being alone with
• The way in which people speak (pace, volume, accent or
diction) is paralanguage.
• Monotone, slow paced and quiet are not qualities one
associates with an effective teacher. Those characteristics
show lack of enthusiasm and boredom.
• The pitch, tone, volume and pace a teacher talks to students
all have an impact on attention span and comprehension.
• Speaking too slow or too soft tends to aggravate students
while speaking at a rapid pace can make it difficult to follow
along with the lesson (Miller, 2005, p.29).
• Find synchronicity in the way in which words are spoken and
their actual meaning.
• Find a comfortable pace for yourself.
• Articulate each word properly.
• Change the pitch and tempo of voice.
• Use relaxed tones when talking to students.
• Use a variety of vocal inflections.
• Proxemics, the study of man’s use and perception of his
space, plays a vital role in the communication process of a
• Proxemics includes: classroom arrangement and teacher-
• Rubin (1973) discovered that, “… one’s location in a
classroom can affect one’s communication level and that the
arrangement of classroom furniture can influence the
various communication processes which are constantly
occurring between teacher and students” (Smith, 1979,
• Teachers can evoke feelings of approval or displeasure
simply by the distance they keep in relation to their
• “Teachers, like most people, tend to get closer to those
they like and maintain a greater distance from those they
don’t like. Creating a supportive learning environment means
not sending messages of rejection through the use of
personal space” (Miller, 2005, p. 30).
• Be aware of classroom arrangement and communicate closeness.
• Move and stand closer when talking to students.
• Sit closer to students when talking to them.
• Leave the desk behind. Stand among the students.
• Sit side-by-side with parents when conferencing to indicate that
they’re partners in their children’s education.
• Stand near every student every day to increase accessibility,
build relationships, and monitor students’ academic and
behavioral progress. (Hansen, 2010, p.37)
• The environment of a classroom includes everything that
surrounds the students on an everyday basis in the class
such as: lights, the walls, the desks and chalkboard.
• “Studies have shown that factors such as a nice color, good
lighting and cleanliness inspire feelings of comfort, pleasure
and enjoyment for completing tasks, while "ugly" rooms
create reactions such as monotony, fatigue and irritability”
(Miller, 2005, p.29).
• Change the environment to improvement student learning.
• Turn off a few lights or use natural sunlight.
• Ensure that the environment is clean, orderly, and safe.
• Make sure the room temperature is comfortable.
• Post students’ work on bulletin boards.
• Establish informal furniture arrangements.
• Teachers need to send positive signals that reinforce
learning and avoid negative signals (Miller, 2005, p. 28).
• “Most teachers choose their words carefully, but they also
need to monitor the messages that their bodies are sending
to students through proximity, eye contact, gestures, and
touching. Furthermore, teachers need to learn the
different body languages associated with the cultures
represented in their increasingly diverse classrooms”
(Hansen, 2010, p.36).
• Teachers can utilize the knowledge of nonverbal behaviors
by understanding their effects on students and becoming
better receivers of students' messages.
Communication in Teaching
• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
• Part 4
• Part 5
• Hansen, J. (2010). Teaching Without Talking. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 35-40.
• Knapp, M. L. (1971) . The role of nonverbal communication in the classroom.
Theory into Practice, 10(4), 243-49.
• Knapp, M. L., & Hall, J. A. (2006). Nonverbal communication in human interaction
(6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
• Langlois, J. H., & Downs, A. C. (1979). Peer relations as a function of physical
attractiveness: the eye of the beholder or behavioral reality? Child
Development, 50(2), 409-418.
• Miller, P. W. (2005). Body Language in the Classroom. Techniques: Connecting
Education & Careers, 80(8), 28-30.
• Rowe, B., & Levine, D. (2009). A Concise Introduction to Linguistics. 2nd ed.
Boston, MA: Pearson.
• Smith, H. A. (1979). Nonverbal communication in teaching. American Educational
Research Association, 49(4), 631-672.
• Stanulis, R., & Manning, B. H. (2002). The teacher's role in creating a positive
verbal and nonverbal environment in the early childhood classroom. Early
Childhood Education Journal, 30(1), 3-8.