How do we interact with students?
Recently, I decided it was time to treat myself to regular yoga classes. I had been too busy with work and family for too many years and realized that I needed to do it to stay happy and healthy. While participating in the classes, I experienced three different instructors, and the differences opened my eyes to how we interact with students in our classes.
Currently, there is a movement in education to make connections with students called Capturing Kids’ Hearts. It works off the premise that “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” ~John C. Maxwell. In capturing kids hearts, step one requires teachers to greet students at the classroom door shaking hands or fist pumping or high-fiving their students. The point is to make physical contact with each student using appropriate human touch as a physical connection and a way to say, “I see you, and you are important to me.” If human touch is important, why stop at the door?
What’s yoga got to do with it?
Here’s where yoga comes in. My three instructors all knew their trade and were pros. However, only one made a real contact with me and made me feel important. I’m sure you can guess which one. It was the one who got close enough to touch me gently on the shoulder or arm or torso while she encouraged me with, “good” or “nice” or some other word of support. The other instructors gave verbal support, but honestly, I never really knew if each spoke to me. However, the instructor who touched me on the shoulder and said, “Nice,” affected me 10 fold. I knew she was speaking to me, and I knew that I was improving.
Why is human touch important?
The idea of touching a student has gotten so perverse that teachers are afraid to touch students in any way, shape, or form. Obviously, this can be detrimental because touch is important in so many cultures. Surely, there are situations when you would not touch students even on the shoulder or arm as in the case of autistic students or children who might have been abused. Their reaction to touch might be very detrimental. However, with this restriction in place, think about the many, many students who do not fit these categories and who would benefit from human touch.
According to Rick Chillot in a 2013 posting for Psychology Today “The Power of Touch,” brief social encounters with appropriate human touch is something that is welcomed and even appreciated:
“More recent studies have found that seemingly insignificant touches yield bigger tips for waitresses, that people shop and buy more if they’re touched by a store greeter, and that strangers are more likely to help someone if a touch accompanies the request. Call it the human touch, a brief reminder that we are, at our core, social animals.”
Think about what you can do in your classroom and building to let people around know, “I see you, and you are important to me.”
Chillot, Rick. “The Power of Touch.” Blog post. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
Steward, A. Lee, and Michael Lupfer. “Touching as Teaching: The Effect of Touch on Students’ Perceptions and Performance.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology17.9 (1987): 800-09. Chrome Web Browser. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.