It’s hard to believe, but humans communicated before there were words. We may not realize it, but we still use pre-verbal methods of communicating. There’s an entire language that we unknowingly transmit with each interaction…it’s nonverbal! It comes naturally to us. All we have to do is tune in to an ancient frequency. Think of when you’re trying to communicate with someone who can’t speak your language. You default to expressive arm gestures and facial expressions. You probably also do this when communicating to your four legged pal. Dogs are champs at reading nonverbals.
As teachers, students come at us in waves. It’s hard to give kids our undivided attention, but that’s precisely what we should TRY to do. Transmitting the right nonverbals is an essential skill that teachers should master. The good news is that mastering such skills is a blast! You can even get your students in on the game.
I learned about nonverbal communication while writing my first book You’ve Gotta Connect.
I devoted an entire chapter to nonverbals, but I also featured them in Hack 73 of my new book Hacking Engagement Again. My favorite book on body language is the Definitive Book on Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease. Not only is this book informative, it’s also hilarious!
This episode is so much fun. Please give some of my ideas a try and deputize your students in the process.
The Problem: We’re unaware of nonverbal signals which can encourage, or undermine, relationships with kids.
The Solution: Become fluent in this ancient form of communication.
What you can do Tomorrow:
- Practice on your significant other.
- Enlighten students about your goal.
- Play an active listening game.
- Have student performers demonstrate effective listening techniques.
- Practice nonverbal listening in one-on-one interactions.
Students who don’t feel like you’re engaged with them will feel totally undervalued.