Sending Messages with Body Language

Body language is the conscious and unconscious movements and postures by which attitudes and feelings are communicated. 

Discuss with students the meaning of body language, how to interpret the messages body language sends and how to use body language to their advantage to communicate to others. 

Explain that you will be using body language to let students know you are ready to begin a session.

  • When you are ready to start your lesson sit up straight in your chair, hands in your lap or hold a resource you will be using.
  • Compliment students who are sitting calmly and attentively. Say, I can tell from your body language you are ready to start, thank you.
  • Look at students who are not ready, smile and tap your watch to indicate you are ready to begin.
  • If you are standing to teach, stand tall and calm. Explain to students how to recognise you are waiting to start and what is expected from them at this time.

Sit in different poses in your chair and ask the students to interpret the message you are sending. e.g. Slumping forward, legs crossed and looking into the distance, feet splayed and slouching in your chair. Finish with the ‘I am ready’ to begin pose.

Students will quickly understand the messages you are relaying using body language. 

Idea: Rather than having students use ‘hands up’ during question time tell your students to use their body language to show they have an answer to provide. They quickly catch on and you will see lots of different ideas. 

Body Language During Group Work:

When you have students working as partners, in threes or groups of four on the floor or at tables take the time to rove about and observe their body language. After five minutes, quietly ask the students to stop and listen to your feedback.  

Compliment those students/groups who have show positive body language.

e.g. I like the way all the group were facing inwards into the circle so they could hear each others opinion. I noticed some students leaning in to listen in the group over there. That shows a lot of respect for the speakers. It was interesting to note that everybody in the group was looking at the speaker. I thought that the group by the window were very impressive. They sat together and made sure each person had enough space to sit and could reach the resources. 

Now you can all go back to your task and I will observe and feedback more positive use of body language.

After your feedback you will notice individuals/groups changes their sitting and listening style. Drop a little note to say well done. 

When we teach and provide effective feedback to students they will take on board and use the skills.