Friends of the Nonverbal Communication Blog, this week we present the paper “Students’ Classroom Silence and Hopelessness: The impact of Teachers’ Immediacy on Mainstream Education” de Juma, O.; Husiyin, M.; Akhat, A. y Habibulla, I. (2022), in which authors think about and analyze the implications of silence and hopelessness in the educative context and how teachers can act to prevent their negative effects. 

Students’ feelings are a key part of their individual well-being and, obviously, of their mental health, affecting their inspiration, their attention, their school success…

On the one hand, we have constructive feelings, such as joy, pride, which raise the students’ inspiration to learn and their attention. On the other hand, there are destructive feelings, such as stress, exasperation, and boredom, which can jeopardize education.

When students are facing the possibility of failing, they may be dealing with destructive feelings, such as humiliation, hopelessness, and may not be able to participate like other peers in learning.

Since feelings mark the learning process so much, it is important to obtain information about them to create an educational environment that is emotionally healthy and that can improve the mental health and performance of students.

If we talk about destructive feelings, on the one hand, we have dejection or hopelessness. Students who suffer from it can avoid harming themselves with course activities, leading to greatly reduced performance and learning. It also reduces motivation for life, and this can lead to violent behavior.

That is, hopelessness increases when the conviction that a good future awaits decreases. It also causes an increase in negativity about life.

Another topic in learning, which has been more explored than others in general, is the problem of silence. It is a broad phenomenon, which has become an obstacle to the creation of bonds between educators and students, which influences the achievement of the objectives of the class as a whole and of each student in particular.

Silence can be positive, but its negative interpretations are certainly more common, and a negative classroom environment often affects performance.

Teachers have made great efforts to engage students in activities and improve the effectiveness of their education, but many students are still not interested in participating in classes. What usually happens is that these young people are hesitant to participate, not ready to respond, inactive and sometimes overly dependent on teachers.

With all of this, we conclude that educators want to successfully instruct their students, so they need to know how to build inspiration in their classroom and encourage their students to participate. To achieve this, verbal and also non-verbal practices can be configured.

This is where the concept of immediacy appears. It refers to a physical, expressive or affective friendship or familiarity that is confirmed through constructive behaviors, and in the educational field, it is considered a way of interaction between teachers and students that brings many benefits; in fact, other previous studies have shown that immediacy is, actually, a way to improve communication and bonds between teachers and students.

Immediacy is essential, therefore, for educators to reduce students’ emotional filters, as well as change and improve their health and behavior through teaching and training.

Some of the verbal techniques of immediacy are providing students with immediate feedback, having conversations before and after classes, calling students by their own name, sharing experiences, giving personal opinions, among others.

Verbal immediacy techniques refer to messages that show compassion, frankness, kindness, reward, acclaim, inclusion, comedy, and above all, willingness to involve students in the group.

But in addition, sympathy, body language, gestures of friendship and support are also used, which are non-verbal elements and besides have a positive influence on the relationship between teachers and students, motivating the latter to be more active in the classroom and to be more involved.

Non-verbal immediacy would imply non-oral attitudes that promote intimacy, especially emotional, and attract the attention of students. In other words, the most important thing about non-verbal elements applied to immediacy is that they improve the emotional and mental closeness of teachers and students.

They can include gestures, facial expressions, body movements, clothing and appearance, smiling, physical distance…

Therefore, after reviewing previous literature, authors conclude that improving teachers’ immediate development practices will promote students’ stress tolerance, self-confidence, and motivation, thus reducing their levels of despondency and improvement of your well-being in general.

If you want to know more about nonverbal behavior and how it influences our personal relationships, visit our Nonverbal Communication Certificate, a 100% online program certificated by the Heritage University (Washington) with special discounts for readers of the Nonverbal Communication Blog.

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