Teachers need to be aware of more than just the words they speak to children. They also need to monitor the nonverbal messages that they’re sending to students through proximity, eye contact, gestures, and touching.

If you add up all the words they speak in a day, Americans speak for an average of about 10 to 11 minutes. Surprised? Then consider that the average sentence lasts for only about three seconds. When people interact with others but aren’t talking, they’re still communicating nonverbally. Indeed, up to 90% of what people say and feel is communicated through their actions, not their words.

Children learn both verbal and nonverbal communication strategies by imitating parents, teachers, and other significant people in their lives. However, most American parents converse with their children for only about 38 minutes per week. In contrast, teachers might communicate with children for up to seven hours each weekday.

Each day, teachers send innumerable verbal and nonverbal messages to students. When teachers’ verbal messages are incongruent with their nonverbal behaviors, students will believe what they see instead of what they hear. Teachers, therefore, can never be sure their students received the intended message. Most teachers choose their words carefully, but they also need to monitor the messages that their bodies are sending to students through proximity, eye contact, gestures, and touching. Furthermore, teachers need to learn the different body languages associated with the cultures represented in their increasingly diverse classrooms. Teachers must learn how to teach without talking.


Teachers demonstrate how they feel about students and colleagues by adjusting their interpersonal distance. People create body bubbles separating themselves from others. The size of these invisible barriers varies according to the individual’s culture, age, and personality and

Log in or become a member to read more!

Want to read the rest of this article? Pi Lambda Theta members enjoy full access to Educational Horizons online.