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The classroom as a culture: Patterns of nonverbal communication in an elementary classroom

12 December 1991


Research suggests that awareness of nonverbal communication' strategies may improve teaching effectiveness. One way to increase awareness is by observing experienced teachers' nonverbal patterns. This analytical paper examines one elementary teacher's use of nonverbal communication. It summarizes and analyzes the observations noted in a qualitative research project conducted in a third-grade classroom. The situation in this classroom is unique because sixteen of the students had advanced from second to third grade with' the teacher. This experienced elementary teacher implicitly and explicitly uses three forms of nonverbal \ communication: kinesics, proxemics and prosody. Her use of kinesics was much. more extensive, however, than her use of proxemics or prosody. She uses nonverbal messages to facilitate instruction, to' control student behavior, and to assess readiness and comprehension. The observations and analysis in this paper summarize the pattern of nonverbal communication established in one particular classroom .and its effect on the culture of that classroom.


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