100 Teacher Tips #1-2 | Eye Contact and Body Language

These are the first two of 100 tried and tested tips for teachers to ensure success in the classroom.

Tip 1: Eye Contact

Tip one is simply to keep eye contact with students. It shows that you are comfortable with being a leader.

What does this mean? When you go into the classroom, as soon as the students enter, make eye contact with them individually and keep it until they look away. This might sound strange, but while you’re teaching, you’ll often engage the students by looking directly at them. Some students will try to look into your eyes and see if you flinch. Society has conditioned us not to let other people feel uncomfortable, so we tend to look away because we don’t want others to feel uneasy.

You’re the leader in the classroom, so you’re supposed to look into your student’s eyes when explaining something. This is not about intimidating them, but about enforcing your position as the teacher and leader of the class.

Does that mean that you’re trying to dominate them or make them feel uncomfortable? No! Actually, the student will think this teacher is confident and comfortable and not afraid to make eye contact.

The problem originates from the fact that a majority of teachers are people who obey rules. Growing up, they were good, disciplined students themselves who always listened to their teachers. Now that you have become a teacher, you need to be more dominant and to have a stronger presence in the classroom. It all starts with eye contact.

We can also use eye contact to subconsciously subdue some students that are acting out. By this is meant that the teacher keeps eye contact with difficult students. Instead of shouting at them, give them the stare. They will stop. Eye contact is a very effective strategy. Keep eye contact with your students until they look away. It also helps you build relationships with your students and number three you can develop a stare that you use instead of words to tell students, “Hey listen! What you’re doing right now is wrong. I want you to stop doing that. ”

Tip 2: Body language – the Power Pose

Stand with your feet apart and shoulders back. This ‘power pose’ will help you feel more confident. I see many new teachers coming into education and when they teach make themselves smaller and they crouch without thinking about it consciously. You should, however, make yourself appear bigger because your body language will have an effect on your mindset. So put your shoulders back, stand up straight, smile, and keep eye contact with your students. By having your feet apart, it shows them that “I’m not afraid, I’m not going to be pushed around” You will feel yourself growing in confidence by using a power pose. So tip 2 is to have a more confident body language and that will affect your teaching.

2.1 The Science behind the Power Pose

After grabbing the headlines with the second-most-popular TED talk in history about the Power Pose in 2012, Amy Cuddy’s research was harshly criticized and labeled as pseudoscience, especially after a controlled study published in 2017 did not replicate her findings.

However, Cuddy and a new research team published a rebuttal in 2019 suggesting power posing is still a legitimate method to make yourself feel positive. Cuddy suggested that body language governs how we think and feel about ourselves, and thus, how we pose or hold our bodies can impact our minds. 

In Cuddy’s original research, participants sat in either an upright high-power pose (expansive posture) or low-power pose (leaning inward, legs crossed) for two minutes. She now refers to the effect as postural feedback rather than power posing. Her analysis in over 55 studies showed a link between expansive postures and feeling more powerful than the low pose counterparts.

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