I didn’t know I was short until I began teaching middle school. Being five feet and a half inches tall and 120 pounds, I became the target of jokes and disbelief. “Oh, I thought you were one of the students!” was and still is a hauntingly familiar dig in my direction.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words do hurt. However, they do have the power to uplift you and make change so I soon learned to exit my feelings quickly in order to be taken seriously by redirecting the conversation, and proceeding in a professional manner.
Without the gift of intimidating stature, I learned to rely heavily on nonverbal cues in my classroom management. Nonverbal cues can be defined as silent signals and/or gestures which communicate commands or instructions to a specific party or audience. Nonverbal cues enable you to model positive expectations for your students or discourage inappropriate behaviors without saying a word.
SMH – this acronym appears heavily in text talk and in comment sections of social media. Shaking my head has stopped six foot high school students in their tracks, prompted boys and girls to ask for the present page number of the text, and lowering of a head who finally realized he or she was not on task – a hint of shame.
If a student is not seated properly, I simply point my index finger up and down and the action is corrected. When a student is speaking too loudly, I turn my hand as if I were lowering a radio dial. Snapchat wheel turning red on a mobile device? I squint my big eyes and tap on the pocket of my pants warning the offender that fancy phone will be mine if they don’t stop playing with me.
These are only a few but effective nonverbal cues which has allowed me to execute class with little detraction from the lesson at hand. The lesson becomes so dear to me that not even I can stand to interrupt it if it is unnecessary.
Follow Jalissa Bates on Twitter @BurninNLootin.