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If you are teacher or teaching assistant, you are fully aware of how important body language is in the classroom. Teaching staff in Bedfordshire have expressed how important non-verbal cues are, they can often prove more effective than verbal cues. Whether Primary or Secondary, teaching staff in Bedfordshire have said non-verbal cues can help to hold the attention of the class and help with behaviour management techniques.

During the COV-ID pandemic, education staff have had to adapt to teaching whilst wearing a mask. This has meant that a teacher or teaching assistant has had to change the way they would deliver these non-verbal cues, in order to get the same results as previous. Teaching whilst wearing a mask has made verbal cues very difficult. Your voice is muffled and facial expressions are hidden. Some students can benefit from lip-reading, teaching whilst wearing a mask has made this impossible.

Tick Education have compiled some tips for the teaching staff in Bedfordshire and around the UK, to breakdown these communication walls.

Use Your Hands

Thankfully, teaching whilst wearing a mask does not affect your hands! A Primary teacher or teaching assistant could use their hands for counting in Maths. Primary and Secondary teaching staff could use hand counting as a way of listing the main objectives of a lesson. You could also use your hands when summarising main points, or when breaking topics down into bitesize chunks. By listing using your fingers could help emphasise the points students really need to remember.

Make sure you’re stocked up on whiteboard markers!

Some teachers don’t like to rely too heavily on their whiteboards as they want their students to engage with them. Sadly, whilst teaching in a mask, it is hard to get emphasis and personality across. Write the main points of your lesson on the board and highlight using different colours. This will especially help the visual learners in your classroom. Bullet pointing and visual annotations will make the board looking exciting and colourful. Instead of using verbal cues to get your personality across you are using the board instead!

Bring emotions back

This technique may lean more to the primary teacher or teaching assistant. We know all too well how much masks hide emotions. To make the classroom feel less clinical, why not get some emojis onboard! As a bit of fun, you could ask your students to select an emoji to show how they are feeling today. You could then adapt your teaching to reflect the mood. Alternatively, you could teach children how to “smize”. This phrase was invented by Tyra Banks when she was teaching models how to smile with their eyes. This is done using eyelashes and eyebrows.

We know that teaching whist wearing a mask is unchartered territory. Masks can divide us and make us feel distant from one another. We hope these tips will help whilst teaching in a mask to bring an uplifting and positive vibe back to your classroom.