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Friday, June 19, 2020

Making Expectations and Non-Verbal Communication Visible in the Classroom

No matter how long a teacher has been teaching, each set of students is different and each set of students follows the teacher's expectations differently. Have you ever caught yourself saying, "I tell them my expectations for how to work and for how long, but then they go off to their seats, waste time, and talk excessively?" Or have you said, "It takes them so long to line up! I tell them what I expect from them then they continue to talk, doddle around, and stand in groups!"

This can be stressful and make your days harder than they need to be.  None the less, it is VERY common among educators! There are times when I was in the classroom and I had to step back and think of myself as a 'learner' as the students are. If someone gave me too many expectations at once to remember, my brain would tune out some of it because I couldn't hold onto all of the information. It wasn't intentional, I just couldn't do it.  I had to ask myself, "How can I explain my expectations to my students AND have them visible for the students to continue to see, even after I was done speaking?" That's when it hit me! If I want my students to continue to follow my expectations during their independent/partner work time, I needed to have my expectations visible, so that I could see them when I needed to remind the students of what was expected, but also so they could continue to see them and reference them when they needed to support and hold each other accountable!

When students are sent off to work independently, they need to know what their voice level should be, what their bodies should be doing, and how much time they have to complete the task. 

Voice, Body, Time Poster used
I was in a class recently where the teacher did exactly what I mentioned above! The teacher took the school-wide expectation system and made it visible and simple for all students to understand! Before releasing the students from the carpet to work independently, she wrote on the board under "V"- 1, indicating a level 1 voice level, under "B" she drew a chair to show they were sitting and working in their seats, and for "T" she used a timer to select the number of minutes the students had to work. BUT she didn't stop there! She even went as far as asking them, "When the timer goes off, what do you do?" The students stated that they stop what they are doing, 'T-up" (time-out hand signal), and quietly wait for their next instructions. This was a system they ALL knew from the first few days of school!

Something to ponder....
How could you make this fun for your studentsHow could you make this a challenge for your students to improve their work stamina or the time it takes them to clean up or line upHave you thought about turning this into a time tracking goal that could be transferred into a math scenario i.e., graphing, addition, subtraction)What do you think would happen if you challenge your students to 'beat' their previous time to line up successfullyWould this encourage them to see their actions as a contribution to their whole class, where their actions impact the others around themHow could you reward the class for working together and holding each other accountable for their actions

But there are also other times in the day that a teacher needs to be able to communicate with their students without using their voice, but merely using non-verbal signals to communicate what they need to get across. Do you ever have to stop excessively during a lesson because they need to ALL get water or they ALL have to go to the restroom all of a sudden? What about the student that bouncing up and down because what they have to say cannot wait? How do you communicate with your students WITHOUT interrupting the lessons or flow of learningHow do you communicate to that student to wait a few minutes before being called on so they know you have seen them and that you value that they have something to say?

@WildAboutFirsties- NonVerbal Hand Signals
What change would it have on your students, classroom community, and your lesson if you used a systematic non-verbal communication system wth your students? When I was in the same class, as mentioned above, she had a B-E-A-UTIFUL communication system with her students! They knew the hand signals for saying they needed to go to the restroom, to get water, to get a tissue, yes responses from the teacher, no responses from the teacher, and even when the teacher was telling them to wait a few minutes! The lesson went uninterrupted, due to this understanding between the students and the teacher!

I challenge you to try and implement a non-verbal communication system in your classroom and see if it has an impact on the flow of learning and classroom community! 

Want to know who this mystery teacher is? Lets see if they comment and "Claim It, Name It,  and Explain It to us!"

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