Being a teacher is a responsible profession. Apart from the pleasure it gives, when the teacher successfully fulfills his role and betters both the knowledge and personality of his students, teaching can sometimes be a frustrating job. This usually happens when there is lack of motivation, resistance to learning, little attention given to the teacher or even animosity toward the teacher. Having all this in mind, one question is inevitable: what is the difference between teaching which is successful and teaching which is ineffective? The answer to the question is quite simple: true communication between the student and the teacher. True teacher-student relationship implies cooperation, sincerity and mutual respect.
Since both the students and the teacher are humans, they are prone to make mistakes. However, there are widespread beliefs and myths concerning an ‘ideal teacher'. Some of them say that a good teacher is always in a good mood, calm, never showing strong feelings or opinions, never annoyed or unhappy even if there is a good reason to feel that way. Also, it is assumed that good teachers do not have prejudice of any kind, nor do they have favorites. They are consistent, they never change, they never forget anything, they do not make mistakes, they know all the answers, they are wiser than the students.
However, the truth is quite the opposite. To be a human means to be inconsistent – different and unpredictable. The popular myths about an ideal teacher demand that teachers deny their humanity. If teachers try to fit into these misconceptions, they will soon find it hard to hide their true feelings and frustrations. Non-verbal behavior will betray them. The consequence is obvious: the students will start raising doubts about the teacher's sincerity and reliability. Every message that teachers send nonverbally reveals their opinion about the student or the matter discussed. The same is true for the students themselves. Nonverbal behavior shows our hidden thoughts and emotions and people can feel deceived if there is a disparity between what they see and what they hear. Nonverbal communication will reveal so many emotions and feelings which words cannot and will not express.
On the whole, it is not only what teachers say in the classroom that is important, but also how they say it that can make the difference to students. Nonverbal messages are an essential component of communication in the teaching process.
Teachers should be aware of nonverbal behavior in the classroom for three major reasons:
- An awareness of nonverbal behavior will allow them to become better receivers of students' messages.
- They will become better senders of signals that reinforce learning.
- This mode of communication increases the degree of the perceived psychological closeness between teacher and student.