Six Non-Verbal Methods to Gain Control of Your Classroom

As a teacher, it is important to be aware of all potential behavioural triggers in your classroom. That is because problems, arguments, and disruptions don’t just happen – something causes them. One of the best ways to prevent and avoid these triggers is by projecting an aura of control. If you give the impression that nothing escapes your attention and that you have a concrete hold over any situation, few students will risk testing you.

So, it is very important that you achieve this aura of control. The way you look, the way you move, the way you use and hold your body, has a profound effect on those around you and those with whom you come into contact. It gives a clear, sometimes subconscious, message to others as to how you’re feeling. For instance, in times of stress we tend to display some gestures such as rubbing our necks or clenching our fists and, while quite natural and usually performed subconsciously, these actions are a clear indication that we are no longer in control. Mastering our body language is, therefore, very important in order to show that we are in control.

There are 6 non-verbal cues that we can use to project control in the classroom, and they are:

1. Move around the room – Moving around the room not only keeps students on their guard, not giving them a chance to hatch secret plans in corners of the classroom but also gives a subtle powerful message that you are in control of the whole room.

2. Use your body language – Students are experts at noticing when our limits are being reached and some will take advantage of a teacher if they think she is “losing” it. Teachers need to be aware of their postures and avoid anything that could be perceived as threatening or overly aggressive.

3. Use eye contact – A few seconds of eye contact can trigger powerful feelings whether you’re showing your pleasure through praise or your displeasure through a strict instruction, eye contact is essential if the real meaning behind those words is to be conveyed effectively.

4. Have eyes in the back of your head – Teachers need to be aware of what’s going on in all parts of the classroom at all times. If any students are off-task or fooling around, the behaviour needs to get snuffed out right away to send a clear message that you have seen them and that it won’t be tolerated. Students are more apt to stay on task if they know you are aware of what they are doing at all times.

5. Make sure transitions are tight – Smooth and effective transitions are one of the most important techniques in maintaining student involvement and class control. Failure to gain students attention by giving unclear and confusing directions, using lengthy explanations and allowing students to take too much time between tasks contribute to student misbehaviour.

6. Maintain students’ interest – When students experience boredom, bad behaviour starts to emerge. Variety reduces and alleviates boredom. You can reduce boredom by providing students with a feeling of progress, offering them challenges throughout the lesson, and by being enthusiastic.

By employing the above non-verbal cues in your classroom, you will quickly notice a positive change in your students’ behaviour. Our body language is more powerful than the words we speak, so remember that when you are trying to get control of your class that you don’t have to raise your voice. Simply utilize these six steps.