Body Language

“Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it.” – Amy Cuddy

I find body language fascinating. No matter what verbal language you speak, where you were brought up, or what your personality is like, we all react to basic stimuli the same way. No matter what we try to say with our words, our non-verbals (the word used by social scientists for body language) usually speak much louder. For some, catching non-verbal cues comes very naturally with little effort, for others, this skill needs to be worked on. When I was younger I was a very quiet kid, I had a few close friends but I ended up doing a lot of observing, I also got very good at figuring out what certain non-verbals look like and what they mean. I have always really enjoyed observing people and their interactions with others.

Amy Cuddy has a TED talk called “Your body language shapes who you are.”  She is a social scientist who spent time observing students in an MBA classroom and conducted an experiment on body language during an interview. What she found was that the people who were told to hold “power poses,” or traditionally dominant poses, ended the interview showing, chemically, that they were more confident and less stressed. This evidence led her to the statement at the beginning of this blog. I find this statement to be very powerful and has the potential to be life changing. Only having to change how you sit and how your arms/legs are positioned? Sounds like something I can do in my everyday life.

I think that having confidence in the classroom affects how the students respond to you. If you act like you know what you’re talking about, the children are going to listen to you. I also think that when you are confident then your students will pick up on that and become more confident in themselves. You being a role model in their lives is huge. Many times, people don’t realize that they are being watched and in some cases imitated. Sometimes it isn’t a bad thing but if you portray yourself in a passive manner they will think that that is how you’re supposed to act all the time. My personal belief is that there is no reason to be showing passive non-verbals, you can give up some of your power and be able to compromise without people walking all over you and taking advantage of you.


14 thoughts on “Body Language

  1. Hey MacKenna,
    This TED Talk sounds really interesting!! I too was always on the quieter side as a kid and also spent a lot of time sitting, just watching and listening to what was going on around me. Human interaction can be incredibly fascinating. I would agree that the way a teacher holds themselves in the classroom most definitely has an affect on the level of engagement and excitement returned by their students. Growing up, we all modeled the behavior of parents, older siblings, and other usually older individuals who we looked up to. As teachers, it is important to model behavior that will facilitate learning and help our students along the path of life.


  2. This is a TED talk that I considered doing my blog about. I think it is so important to understand what your “body language” says about you. Especially with our goal educating future students, we need to be aware of how they perceive us. Human interaction is so vital, and I believe that compassion in necessary for students to see. I also agree that non-verbal cues are something that need to be built upon and developed. I would very much life to attend one of her talks!


    1. I think that she is a really excellent speaker and has a lot of experience to back her up. I’m glad you brought compassion into your response because it really is a key ingredient in successful teaching!


  3. i really like this one. I think being able to read body language is a great skill to have. It will help you so much in the school setting with your students! This is such an interesting topic and I can’t wait to keep reading your work!


  4. Also being a former shy child, watching this Ted Talk and reading your post made me really connect. It also made me realize how much I have changed in the past ten years. (Not I feel old when I take that into account that 10 years ago is a decade and sounds like forever ago.) But besides that I found it so interesting to see how you took this Ted Talk and compared it to a classroom and then to how important body language is in a classroom. Body Language is crucial on both sides of the table… educator or student. Seeing a teacher sit at their desk on the computer while the students taking a test shows to me that the teacher could care less if someone has a question or if the children cheat. Where on the students side, if a child does not have their book open to the lesson the teacher is talking about, but the rest of the students do it shows the teacher that the child does not care and has no interest in participating in the lesson. Body Language makes relationships in a classroom and although it is such a small thing that many people forget about, it is actually a very big part of how people judge the type of person you are.
    Take care!


    1. It makes me feel old thinking about my elementary education as well, I swear it was just a few years ago! But your point about it is both the student and teachers who should be aware of it is a really excellent point.


  5. Non-verbal communication is huge in the business world with people negotiating all the time. I like how you mention that students could feed off your energy and stature in the classroom. This could be a major part of a student learning or not. To be a leader you have to have a correct stance and presence for your students to be motivated to follow.


  6. I think body language is a very important piece of our every day lives especially as future teachers. Our students will feed off of how they perceive us in the classroom. We need to focus on our body language and make sure that we using it correctly to show our students that we care. It would also help us to know body language so that we can see how our students are reacting to the lessons and to see if they are enjoying them.


    1. I like that phrase, “Our students will feed off of how they perceive us.” I think that should be a big motivator for all teachers. Sometimes I think that teachers forget that and then their classrooms just become less relaxed and don’t feel as open as they would like.


  7. MacKenna,
    I loved this TEDTalk. I hear all the time from teachers to students, “Fake it until you make it.” I thought it was a catchy phrase, but Amy Cuddy certainly made it more. Why do feel that we must pretend? Why not feel confident, empowered, intelligent, etc. If our body language can change the way in which we feel, then this is something that needs to be shared with students. This would be a spectacular video to show in class.


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