Managing a classroom is one of the most difficult jobs of a new teacher. For some, classroom management comes naturally, while other will struggle to find the balance between control and learning. These nonverbal techniques can help new teachers gain control quickly and maintain control so that the focus of the classroom can be on learning instead of discipline.
What are Nonverbal Management Techniques?
Nonverbal classroom management techniques are methods and strategies a teacher will use to keep students focused on learning without using words or sounds. These can include eye contact and various looks as well as gestures.
The benefit of nonverbal techniques for managing student behavior is how unobtrusive they are. Instead of interrupting the entire class to redirect one student, the teacher can utilize a nonverbal gesture that changes the necessary behavior.
A Warning About Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication happens every day in the classroom, and not all of it is positive or beneficial. When a teacher becomes frustrated or irritated with a student or with the class, students will see it. Some students strive to make their teachers frustrated and feel that seeing that frustration is their reward for pushing the right buttons. When using nonverbal management techniques, it is more important for new teachers to not show emotions that they do not want students to see.
When something occurs in the classroom that needs to be addressed, it is often beneficial for a teacher to pause and collect herself prior to addressing the issue in order to be sure that all communication, including nonverbal, is appropriate and helpful.
Examples of Nonverbal Classroom Management Strategies
The nonverbal technique is most effective when the attention of a child is easily obtained. A warning look can be helpful in pulling a child’s attention away from a distracting object or person and back to the task at hand. Holding up one finger while making expectant eye contact with eyebrows raised can be helpful in obtaining quiet in the classroom.
Silently shaking the head is effective in communicating a quick no, and when a more direct approach is necessary, slow the shake down and add an intense, focused stare. Standing straight and tall with a finger over the lips can help quiet the class. Make eye contact when necessary, but avoiding eye contact can often result in students shushing each other.
The most effective nonverbal techniques, though, are only found to be effective after a little bit of training. Students need to know that consequences will follow if a warning glance is ignored. With consistent follow through on inappropriate behavior, the ability to control a group of students with a single look or gesture will be possible for any classroom teacher.