Body Language's Influence of Power

Merisa Lulanaj

The Power of Teachers

Power exists all around us, even when we don't notice it. Some would say that power makes people think they're important, especially when it comes to teachers. I wanted to study the body language of a teacher in a classroom setting to see how it relates to power. I first wanted to see what body language signals my anatomy teacher would use and how the students around me would react. By the end of this observation I didn't notice what an influence my teacher had on the classroom atmosphere. I had predicted that Mrs. Waeshcle (my anatomy teacher) would be loud and very close to students while speaking resulting in the students participating and engaging more with the class. I happen to sit in the back right corner of the classroom of around 15 teenage students. I noticed that the class was mainly students sitting and listening to what our teacher had to say then speaking our thoughts on a certain topic.

Observations Made

Pattern of repetitive body signals. At first she didn't really talk a lot and the classroom was very quiet while doing their bell work. Later on I noticed that my teacher moved back and forth a lot while talking, she also would fix the back of her hair frequently. Those actions didn't really contribute any reactions from the students. She then had a pen in her hand and clicked it often along with making a lot of hand motions. Some hand motions that had caught the class's attention in particular was when she had demonstrated hows cells fight each other off punching her hands in the air back and forth. When I looked at the class's reaction I noticed that a majority of them found it humorous and started laughing.


One of the things I noticed from my teacher was that she used one of the "Power Poses". In Ronald E.Riggio's articles on Psychology Today he talks about these poses that give people a higher sense of power and confidence. While my teacher was explaining how cells fight off viruses she stood to the corner of her desk and continued talking with her hands on her hips. I realized while she did that that more of the class looked more focused and had a better reaction to her when she did move around with hand motions. I guess my prediction could have been correct because with more dramatic body language their were more students who raised their hands and gave answers then when she didn't. I then learned that even when we may not realize it, people do pay attention to how you act. Before this observation I knew that this specific teacher was known for her "quirky" attitude and moving around a lot but I never look at the influence it had on students. While observing, my teacher gave orders and even the students that don't pay attention much seemed to at least listen to what she had to say. It seemed that her giving due dates to our homework and reports seemed to give her an authoritative power over students because we knew if we were to turn it in any later than that date then points would be taken off or not graded. This power over students that teachers hold I would say is acceptable. In the end I know that most things that teachers do is to help students and get us ready for the future. From the looks of the National Center for Education Statistics 81% of high school students graduated on time receiving diplomas showing us that the authoritative power teachers have over students doesn't seem to do harm. Others may say that teachers hold too much power or not use it in a way that will help students. Yes, it did seem that Mrs. Waeschle had more power than students because when she gave us orders 90 percent of the class listened. The body language that my teacher demonstrated had more of the class paying attention along with a positive vibe and her have a sense of power. This observation taught me the influence of a teacher authority's body language and how it related to her having power.