We’ve all had teachers who have inspired us and, sadly, some who haven’t. The best teachers have excellent classroom presence. Classroom presence is not about the lessons you present; instead, it’s about how your words and actions in the classroom make your students feel. Compassion, communication, and enthusiasm lie at the heart of good classroom presence, helping you create a positive learning environment where students feel inspired and motivated to give their all.
A key element to creating a positive classroom presence is to be fully present. In other words, while in the classroom with students, you need to be mentally aware, emotionally engaged, and physically balanced. These qualities will allow you to manage your classroom appropriately and create an environment in which students are eager to learn, willing to take risks, and unafraid of failure.
Creating a positive classroom presence isn’t something that’s taught in teacher preparation programs. Some teachers possess an in-born vibe that allows them to calm students, reduce behavior issues, and inspire children to excel in the classroom. Don’t worry if you weren’t one of the lucky few who were born with this ability, it can be learned!
Below, we offer a few pointers that will help you improve your classroom presence right away!
1. Enter with Confidence
Entering your class with confidence shows you are in charge. Be confident, look comfortable and relaxed, stand tall, and greet your class.
2. Match Your Tone of Voice to Your Message
Use your voice in different ways to elicit desired responses from your students.
- Use a firm tone to gain students’ attention.
- Use a comforting tone to soothe.
- Keep your voice deep and calm. Do not use high-pitched tones.
- Vary the speed of delivery to relay different messages – for example, when speaking about something exciting, talk faster; on the other hand, when talking about something important, speak more slowly and pause as necessary, so students can absorb your message.
- Learn to breathe properly. This will help you control your voice tone. Focus on exhaling as opposed to inhaling and release your breath right before you speak.
3. Body Language
Body language is critical to engaging students and can convey all kinds of messages. For this reason, it’s good to be mindful of what your body language is saying to students.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Stand tall when entering the classroom. Walk with your shoulders back and look relaxed and confident.
- Pay attention to your facial expressions – they can show happiness, approval, or even anger.
- Smile! Smiling is a great way to connect with your students.
- Use gestures when emphasizing an important point.
- Always make eye contact.
- When students are talking, move closer to them.
4. Move Around
If you constantly stand in front of the classroom, this can give the impression that you are the sole authority, and that you aren’t looking for participation from the class. Use the space you have.
- Move around when students are doing assignments or having group discussions, this makes you seem more accessible.
- Think about the moments when walking around the classroom will have the greatest impact. Use these opportunities to engage your students.
What do the Experts Say?
Creating a positive classroom presence is no different from making a good impression in a business or personal setting. Here are some ideas for creating a personal presence from Stacey Ashley, a coach and speaker who excels in the fields of leadership development and executive coaching. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best and to become true leaders. Here are her top tips for doing this:
- Manage your mind/body balance. Here Ashley talks about creating balance in your internal world. She says this allows you to take yourself to your peak performance zone. She also believes in good breathing techniques. She recommends inhaling for 6 seconds and exhaling for another 6 seconds. Doing this regularly, per Ashley, brings your nervous system into balance.
- How do I show up every day? This is an interesting question to ask yourself. Are you energized or negative? Are you just going through the motions, or are you really connecting with your students? Ashley states that presence is about how you connect with others. You need to ask yourself whether you are inspiring your students or sucking the life out of them. If you are not inspiring them, it’s time to take a good look at how you approach and speak with them daily.
- Live in the moment. Ashley advises we live in the moment and not worry about the past or what might happen in the future. If your mind is full of clutter, you’re not living in the present. Instead, live in the moment and avoid multitasking as it puts you under immense pressure and takes you out of the present.
- Work with your energy. Figure out what energizes you and what drains you. Once you’ve identified what lifts you up, you can incorporate a daily practice of rejuvenation into your routine.
We hope that you found these tips for improving your classroom presence useful. Is maintaining a positive classroom presence difficult for you? Do you have any other tips on how to improve your classroom presence? Please share them with us, we’d love to hear your ideas.