Appropriate Use of Touch in Class

Touching students in class is an area of some controversy. What is appropriate? Is it ok to use it to create a bond with and encourage students?


Recently I observed a new teacher and noticed that the discipline problems that had been causing problems might simply have stemmed from an over emphasis on establishing discipline at the expense of warmth. I have noticed how eye contact, smiling and a little nudge on the shoulder seem to foster a bond with students that doesn’t exist with a strictly hands off approach. Obviously this style of teaching should be approached with caution. I think appropriate touching should only involve the hand, arm, shoulder and possibly back. If a student is very young and doesn’t answer a simple question such as how old are you? I find the merest touches on the hand of a neighboring student and asking the same question brings a correct response. I go around the table asking everyone and return to the original student who will invariably answer correctly.


If I quickly check written homework at the table and I see a mistake, I will circle and give the student a gentle arm nudge, smile and say well done, now fix those mistakes. 


If a rambunctious very young male student who is often failing starts doing well,  I’ll give him a little squeeze on the shoulders and say well done. If a student is having real problems remembering a letter when writing, I will ask her neighbor to write the letter with a finger on the students back. Kids love this. A student might begin to get rowdy as we sing a song, I find a gentle squeeze of the hand or wrist is enough to bring the student into line. When very young students leave the class I try to give them a high or low five, they enjoy this.


The areas I think are out of bounds are not to touch girls on shoulders {George Bush style with Angela Merkel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTQY1Aw9zcs ] Obviously with boys and girls, lower body is out of bounds and extreme gentleness and respect at all times.



I strongly believe if we treat our students with love and respect they will respond to you so much better than if we constantly say don’t do this or that.


Write a comment

Comments: 0