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Albert Mehrabian (1967) stated that 55% of communication is body language, 38% of communication is tonality, and 7% of communication is the actual words that are spoken. Altogether, 93% of communication is unspoken words – what we use to give or withhold meaning from our words. Communication is a complicated, ongoing process of sending and receiving messages. These messages provide both implicit and explicit interpretations depending on the synchrony between the spoken word and the body language associated with it, “Teachers should be aware of nonverbal communication in the classroom for two basic reasons: to become better receivers of students' messages and to gain the ability to send positive signals that reinforce students' learning while simultaneously becoming more skilled at avoiding negative signals that stifle their learning” (Miller, 2005). Teachers need to be more concerned about their teaching-learning situations because “the pattern of behavior of the teacher affects the pattern of behavior of the learner” (Clark, 1978). With this, teachers must focus on changing the learner’s behavior by changing their own behavior.

This site will help teachers of the 21st century become more aware of and have a better understanding of their nonverbal communication in the classroom. The research I have gathered supports the fact that nonverbal communication is highly important, if not critical, when teaching and working with children. Although Albert Mehrabian's communication model is great for adult interactions, he did not predict student-teacher interactions. In fact, with the data I gathered, I was able to propose a communication model to use in the classroom. This model supports tone of voice accounts for 79% of communication, body language accounts for 13% of communication, and spoken word accounts for 8% of communication. The focus when teaching should be not on the words but how the words are presented (including inflections, tone, and pitch) by the teacher. This new model closely supports the findings of Mehrabian - 92% of communication in the classroom is nonverbal.


Last updated on 08/08/2011 by Kristin Mashak