cstravato's Pre-k World

The life of a Teacher / Student / Mother

An Exercise in Non-Verbal Communication

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For this exercise I watch an episode in season three of Friday Night Lights. I have never watched any episodes in this series before this exercise. I watched once without sound and then once with sound. As I watch the episode, the first time without sound I took notes on assumptions I made of the story line, characters relationships, family dynamics, and the emotional connections based on the non-verbal cues. I then re-watched the episode with sound following through my notes to see how accurate my assumptions were.

This was a very interesting exercise I was surprised to find I was accurate with many of my assumptions of the relationships between characters, emotional battles, and family dynamics. I was even able to tell that one character was one of the football players mother but that she was newly back in his life. This was one I was not sure I had interpreted correctly just from non-verbal cues. I found the main character lives were easier to follow and keep track of the story and the emotions. The side stories that intertwined at time with the main characters where harder to follow without the back story of how they fit in.

I observed many non-verbal communication skills that helped me make accurate assumptions about the show. I found I focused a lot on people’s facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, eye focus, and proximity. I watch eyes get bigger, smaller, squinted, and squeezed. Each eye change told me a different message about he characters in the story. I observed arms and hands waving, pointing, hugging, twitching, pounding, and flailing about. These were clear indications of the characters emotions and the closeness of relationships. There were so many different types of verbal communication to observe. It is amazing how much you can figure out about a scene without hearing the verbal interactions, the non-verbal messages are loud and clear.

This made me really think about those times at school when staff knows the students can’t hear them and maybe they are having a conversation about a student. That student and others may not need to hear the conversation to pick up the gist of the meaning. We should always be aware of the messages our facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, and proximity give away. Knowing more about non-verbal communication can also be an asset in communicating with students and staff without verbal interactions. There are time when a student is not making the best choices and I will wait to catch the eye of that student or a staff member near by and gesture, to use a quieter voice, or to calm their body. I have also used non-verbal praise in the same way, I like to catch a student’s eye when they have done something great and are looking around to see if anyone notice and give them a smile, thumbs up, or a silent clap.   Non-verbal communication takes seconds to send a message but the affects are lasting.

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Author: cstravato

I am a wife of 14 years and have two boys, one is 10 and an the other is 8. They are busy and keep us hopping. I have been a pre-school teacher for 9 years with a break in the middle to teach kindergarten in FL for three years, and I had the luxury of staying home with my two boys for a few years. I enjoy teaching pre-school age children it gives me great pride to help set a generation up to succeed in their school careers and life. I am currently going back to school to complete my masters degree in early childhood education at Walden University.

2 thoughts on “An Exercise in Non-Verbal Communication

  1. Great post! Non verbal can definitely “say a lot”. many misinterpretations are associated with using nonverbal communication, but with this exercise it taught both of us that our assumptions could also be correct. You are so correct that we should be careful on how we use nonverbal communication around children. I do believe more times children can feel more of people’s energy and non verbal communication more than verbal communication.

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  2. I like how you mentioned the nonverbal communication with the eyes. They are very telling! In the show I watched, I noticed the eye getting bigger or squinting and even rolling. This was a great exercise for us to do and think about the nonverbal cues we send when we “speak.” Children will learn from us, too, so it is important to be honest in the way we speak and act. Thanks for sharing!
    Joyce

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