Monday, January 10, 2011

Communicating Without Saying A Word

My family recently got a dog.  I was dreading housebreaking.  I came to realize as I hovered over our little puppy that she was training me instead of the other way round.  She was communicating her needs by sniffing the floor, walking in a circle and walking away from her toys and food bowl.   How wonderful that movement was her way of telling me she needed to go out.

Of course this got me thinking about all the non spoken ways we as humans communicate with each other.  And I am not talking about facial gestures either.  Do you have a student that always sits as far away from you as possible?  Or one that is practically sitting in your lap?    Do you have a student that slowly inches his way into the classroom and one that bounds in the moment you open the door?
They are telling you something.

I like to mix things up when I teach.  I sometimes stand in front of a class and get them all settled.  Then I walk to the back of the room and have all the students turn to face me.  A student that likes to sit in the back is now in the first row and vice-versa.   Try this out and see how your students respond.  Challenge them to take risks, not by the steps they take, but the space they take.

If you have a student that always bounds into the room and then one day walks in slowly you know there is a change in mood or behavior.  Sometimes the cues kids give us are more subtle than this.  If you observe your students and what they tell you with their movements then these subtle cues can become more obvious.

When I studied dance I always liked to stand in the front right corner.  I could see the teacher but was not standing right in front of her.  If I did not get to class early enough I would have to find an open spot.  When this happened I was never as comfortable.  I now see how that challenged me.

Change where you stand to teach class.  Notice if you always like to stand in the same place.  Are you giving subtle information to the class by the spaces you choose as well?

Have fun observing how the students in your life communicate through movement!


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