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Non-Verbal Cues & Signals

Non-Verbal Cues & Signals

Why should I do it:

  • Creates a working relationship with student without calling attention to the student in a negative manner
  • Is discrete and quick
  • Saves class and instruction time
  • Makes students more comfortable and likely to participate and be involved
  • Easy to do and effective
  • Improves and builds student confidence and self-esteem

When should I do it:

  • When a student is losing attention and focus during times of instruction or independent work
  • As a form of redirection from misbehavior, talking, off task behaviors, etc
  • When a student has problems talking in front of the class
  • When a student does not participate or volunteer
  • When a student is not following classroom/school procedures
  • When a student does something good, correct, successfully, etc

How do I do it:

  • Meet with student individually to identify with student how you and they should communicate in a special way
  • Have student, as much as possible, pick the sign to use
  • Practice with the student and explain when you notice they might need some re-focus, you will show them the sign
  • Set up a cue with a student for when they would like to participate, volunteer, or when they will be called on to do so or speak or read in front of the class
  • Use cues like smiles, thumbs up, shaking head “yes”, etc to praise students for correct behaviors, participation, volunteering, etc, or to reassure them and encourage them
  • Use simple cues like shaking head “no”, raising eyebrows, giving a “one minute” finger signal, etc to redirect students, give directives, etc

Resources & Support for technique:
(Items with footnotes link to external websites)


  1. Lewis, B. Maintain a Quiet Classroom Without Having to Say a Word: Student Discipline Strategies That Save Your Sanity. [].
  2. Schreiner, E. How to Develop Non-Verbal Cues for Classroom Management. [].
  3. Weisner, K. Non-verbal Cues for Procedures. [].
  4. classroom-management-success. Non Verbal Cues: Learn How To Use Them Effectively In Teacher Student Communication. [].
  5. Harmel, K. (1999). UF Researcher: Teachers’ Nonverbal Clues Affect Students’ Performance. [].
  6. Hammond, K. How to Use Nonverbal Communication in the Classroom. [].
  7. Priceless-Teaching-Strategies. Non Verbal Communication. Actions Speak Louder Than Words!!. [].
  8. classroom-management-success. Non Verbal Cues: Learn How To Use Them Effectively In Teacher Student Communication. [].
  9. Perez, S. Classroom Management – Putting Into Action Non-Verbal Signals. [—Putting-Into-Action-Non-Verbal-Signals&id=991772].
  10. Center For Nonverbal Studies. [].
  11. Blanc, G. Nonverbal Communication Classroom Activities. [].
  12. Demand Media, Inc. How to Use Non-Verbal Communication Effectively. [].
  13. Wainwright, N. (2011). How to Use Nonverbal Communication in Teaching. [].
  14. Cox, C. A. (2011). Types of Nonverbal Communication That Use Cues. [].
  15. Johnson, C. How to Use Nonverbal Techniques in the Classroom. [].
  16. Moore, K. C. Classroom Activity for Nonverbal Communication. [].
  17. Peterson, S. Effective Communication Tips for the Classroom. [].
  18. Pickett, T. Verbal & Non-Verbal Communications in the Classroom. [].