Author Richelle E. Goodrich has said “Few
realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.”
Non-verbal communication is biologically based, whereas verbal communication is culturally
based and evolved earlier than verbal communication. Non-verbal communication communicates emotions.
Immediacy behaviors bring people together and have been identified as the most important
function of non-verbal communication by some researchers. Immediacy behaviors are both
verbal and non-verbal. They signal warmth, communicate availability, decrease distance,
and promote involvement between people. I have always had a passion for learning.
Over the years I have had many great teachers and others, I felt, weren’t so great. When
I had a teacher that was warm and reassuring, I thrived. As I’ve gotten older, my memories
have become a little muddied, but the teachers that left a lasting impression on me, have
stood the test of time in my recollection. My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Livingston, demonstrated
great immediacy characteristics. These promoted a strong relationship between she and I because
she provided me with social cues that helped me learn when it was appropriate to continue
talking or stop. She remembered things about me, even things that may have been perceived
as trivial to any other adult, and that reinforced our bond. She was funny and asked for my opinions,
empowering me to continue to be curious. She generally had a positive attitude toward me
and because of this I had a more positive attitude toward her and her teaching techniques.
When you’re a child, you don’t feel heard or listened to, which can lead to frustration
and resentment between an educator and a student. She truly made me feel valued, even in the
simple things, like keeping eye contact when we spoke, and smiling at me when I asked a
question, got an answer right, or even when providing constructive feedback. She left
such a meaningful impact on me that I, to this day, outline coloring sheets with crayon
or marker and then color inside my outlines. This was a technique she taught me when I
was a child and I had trouble coloring inside the lines.
Mrs. Livingston was much different than my teacher Mrs. Norris. I was less likely to
participate in that class due to the impact of the non-verbal cues that Mrs. Norris showed.
She didn’t have the warmth in her facial expressions that Mrs. Livingston had. She
was a little bit abrasive in her teaching style, rarely made eye contact with me, and
I hardly ever saw her smile. She was all business and didn’t include humor in her teachings.
I did what I could to go through the motions to get through the day when she was my teacher.
Not to say that she was a bad person, but I enjoyed Mrs. Livingstons class more because
of our interactions not just verbally and non-verbally.
What I learned by having two completely different personalities through these teachers, was
I am more prone to have better retention and higher participation for material when it
comes to educators if I have more positive non-verbal cues, than when I don’t. I’ll
leave you with this, in the words of Rita Pierson, an educator and well known public
speaker, “Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who
understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly