Nonverbal Communication in Schools


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This Nonverbal Communication presentation is designed to promote an understanding of the important relationships among theory, research, and practice.

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Nonverbal Communication in Schools

  1. 1. Nonverbal Communication in Schools Ashley Nelson Summer 2014 Rider University
  2. 2. What is Nonverbal Communication? • “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.
  3. 3. Types of Nonverbal Communication • Kinesics • Affect displays • Eye Movements • Physical Appearance • Touch • Paralanguage • Proxemics • Physical Environment
  4. 4. Kinesics
  5. 5. Kinesics • 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’ speech. • For the majority of time, the students are sitting while the teacher is standing. This demonstrates the power the teacher has.
  6. 6. Kinesics • 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, p. 245). • 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 teacher.
  7. 7. Kinesics Classroom Connection • Use gestures carefully to ensure the correct message is being conveyed. • 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.
  8. 8. Affect Displays
  9. 9. Affect Displays • Facial expressions are used to express emotions or affect displays. • 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. 29). • 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, 2002, p.7).
  10. 10. Affect Displays Classroom Connection • 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.
  11. 11. Eye Movements
  12. 12. Eye Movements • The eyes can be referred to as a component of facial expressions. • 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.
  13. 13. Eye Movements Classroom Connection • Maintain eye contact and greet students, staff, and other educators in the hallway to demonstrate respect and build relationships. • 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, 2010, p.38)
  14. 14. Physical Appearance
  15. 15. Physical Appearance • 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 group identity. • 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.
  16. 16. Physical Appearance Classroom Connection • Be aware of the negative assumptions that can affect student performance. • Change behavior to avoid showing bias to certain students based on their appearance. • Wear clothing that articulates professionalism, confidence, and competence.
  17. 17. Touch
  18. 18. Touch • 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).
  19. 19. Touch Classroom Connection • Ask students’ permission before touching them. • Give them a choice then offer encouragement and support with a – pat on the back – hug – handshake – fist bump – high five • Limit touching to the students’ heads, shoulders, hands, and upper backs. • Leave the classroom door open and avoid being alone with children.
  20. 20. Paralanguage
  21. 21. Paralanguage • 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).
  22. 22. Paralanguage Classroom Connection • 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.
  23. 23. Proxemics
  24. 24. Proxemics • Proxemics, the study of man’s use and perception of his space, plays a vital role in the communication process of a classroom. • Proxemics includes: classroom arrangement and teacher- student distance. • 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, p.646).
  25. 25. Proxemics • Teachers can evoke feelings of approval or displeasure simply by the distance they keep in relation to their students. • “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).
  26. 26. Proxemics Classroom Connection • 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)
  27. 27. Physical Environment
  28. 28. Physical Environment • 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).
  29. 29. Physical Environment Classroom Connection • 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.
  30. 30. Nonverbal Communication in Schools • 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.
  31. 31. Mastering Nonverbal Communication in Teaching Relationships Video Clips • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5
  32. 32. Helpful Websites • onverbcom/nonverbcom.htm • 350-9-tips-on-nonverbal-communication-in-the- classroom •
  33. 33. Resources • 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.