Sunday, May 1, 2011

Daily Assignment #57: Body Language

Body language, as we all know,is not a true indication of students' attention. Body language can be very deceptive.  While some body language signs are obvious, it’s hard for a teacher not to assume the worst.  We've all had students who appear very engaged and aren't, and then we have those that don't look like they are engaged at all,or even know where they are, and they are engaged.

During instruction there will be some students nodding their heads, thumbing through the text or diligently taking notes. Are they the ones paying attention?  I know students who have said they do these behaviors so that the teacher will think they are following the lesson.

And then, how about the student when the minute you ask a question their head goes down and they look busy, as if they are looking through their notes for the answer?  They know that if they make eye contact with the teacher, or don't look busy, that they maybe called on. (I confess, I've done this move.)  They are totally trying not to be noticed.

Then there are the students whose eyes become glassed over, or their bodies are completely turned around, or tapping their fingers, or playing with something,or shifting around in their seat. They appear to be doing everything but paying attention.

A student with a bowed head may be listening in rapt concentration, whereas from the front of the room, they appear to be taking a nap.

I have experienced all these scenarios. What I've learned, as a result, is not to not to be so quick to assume the worst.

One of the goals of all teachers is to gain and maintain our students attention throughout our instruction. The reality is that students will drift off and come back once, if not several times, during the instruction, especially if you’re speaking longer than thirty minutes.  As a matter of fact, teachers should try not to instruct for more than 10-12 minutes at a time for maximum impact, which I refer to in my blog  "Chunking Instruction #23.

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Best Effort,

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