If not, you’d better. It may already be too late. You may already be forever toast. After four weeks? Surely not? Afraid so. After four minutes even! Yikes! Who says? An expert. Another one. An expert of Body Language, Dr Sean Neill of Warwick University. Your first four actions, says he, could well dictate everything. He’s done the research. Get the first four steps wrong and your class isn’t going to “take the journey with you”. Your authority will be shot to bits. Irretrievably.
Perhaps other Body Language Gurus can help – like James Williams of Charles Darwin School. James embraces a Darwinian mode of behaviour management. His degree is in The Bleedin’ Obvious. Look well ‘ard, speak real slow, look confident, stand straight, shoulders back and “own the classroom”. When you walk into the classroom remember “it is your domain, not theirs”. Absolutely. Journalist Helen Ward concurs. “Strut in like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever,” says Helen, and you’ll have the tots in thrall.
“You can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.”
I’m not entirely convinced. It might well have prompted mere mirth from my 8th years. Several might think I need to be quickly sectioned. Still, let’s look for positives. Dr Neill has another top tip: “Know where the desks are – and things that might make you trip.” Indeed. Like my old teacher French “Chunk” Jones did in 1958. He charged into our classroom in much dudgeon, tripped over the dais on his way to the lectern and fell arse over tit across the floor. How we laughed. Poor Body Language, you see. Mind you, we had sabotaged the dais. Chunk went quite mental and subjected us mites to Pentecostal rage and a savage revenge of biblical proportions – thus disproving Dr Neill.
Perhaps Amy Cuddy, Professor at Harvard Business School, can help. Amy advocates doing “high power poses”. Like The Haka? The Mobot? The Usain Bolt? Not quite – more “legs up, hands around the head”. These poses will get the old “testosterone rising”. Crumbs. And testosterone is the “power hormone”. Absence thereof and things can tend to get “droopy” and we don’t want that – and the class tends to riot.
So there you have it. It might not be too late after all. Get physical. Make like John Travolta or Mae West, speak like a dimwit, go a bit medieval, up the testosterone, don’t fall over the furniture or smile before Christmas – and you could nail it for the year.