Hi there! It has been a busy time at Vidyanext and as usual, we have learnt a few things on the way.

In one of our physics classes last week, our tutor Saili observed that the students weren’t as enthusiastic about the lesson as she would have liked it. She has been teaching them for a month and has come to know her class pretty well. This time though, they seemed to zone out every now and then and only a few students were participating in the class discussion. There were hardly any questions either.

We always recommend using techniques like objective questions, interactive cross-questioning and examples from real life to rouse the student’s interest in the class topic. In fact, on this day Saili hardly picked up the book at all and decided to talk about her physics chapter as conversationally as she could. Unfortunately, none of these tactics worked. The students weren’t able to be pulled out of their stupor.

So how does one go about addressing this problem of an unresponsive class? The answer lies in the delivery of class, more specifically the teacher’s body language.

We figured that although Saili had great content on her side, her delivery could be improved a few notches. Through most of the class, Saili stood in a corner of the room with some notes in her hand. She seemed a bit nervous which was evident in her voice. I think the pressure of an unresponsive class got to her and the students definitely picked up on it too. In fact, students always respond to a teacher’s body language and learning a few useful tricks can help gather their attention.

“The ability of a teacher to establish an engaging relationship with students is very important,” explains Ron Benner, a school psychologist in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “The successful teacher blends both verbal and nonverbal communication skills in establishing a good relationship with students and this has a direct correlation to student achievement.”

To receive and hold the attention of your student, you need to establish your presence from the moment you enter your class. Here are some tips that can help you do that:

  • Enter the class confidently and greet your students in a loud, upbeat and confident voice. The response you get will be upbeat in return. If not, before you start your class, ask them what is going on in their lives. This will make them realize that you are interested in them and that you care.
  • When talking to your class, use the entire classroom. Let your students follow you with not just their eyes, but their head too. That way their concentration remains on you.
  • While doing the above, make sure you are maintaining continuous eye contact with all of the students.
  • Keep varying your voice level with the class. When you want to direct their attention to a point, ask them to loudly repeat the point after you or speak out that part in a dramatic whisper.
  • Use your expression. Teachers with introverted personalities may find it hard to do so, but it is worthwhile to try and get out of your comfort zone for this. If you are excited and comfortable with your students, they will be and excited and comfortable with you.
  • When confronting negative behavior, talk softly and tell them about the negative consequences. For example, if a student talks in class, you could explain to them that they are distracting themselves and their friends from the lesson which will hinder their learning.
  • To handle a chaotic class, instead of shouting, try quietly looking at them with no expression. Don’t compete with them to prove who can shout louder. They will win.

So do try out these body language tips. Remember, use more eye contact, smile more often, stand up straight, allow your students their personal space, and use the persuasive power of touch.

We are sure you will look and feel more confident, resulting in greater leverage with your students and more effective classroom management.

About the author:

Priya Priya Srivastava
Educationist, Teacher (STEM specialist), EdTech blogger
works at content.vidyanext.com