Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

Being Present


Most of us realize the importance of making eye contact and focusing entirely on the person with whom we’re speaking….and the impact it can have on that person. And, probably, many of us often forget to do it, or, when you’re a teacher and having to supervise an entire classroom of students, are not able to do it.

At the recommendation of Jim Peterson, a talented vice-principal at our school about whom I’ve previously written, I (and other teachers) try to take a few minutes now and then from our free period and pull students out of their regular classes to try to have these kinds of conversations (after making pre-arrangements with their teacher, of course), and it has worked out quite well.

Michael Ellsberg has written a good post offering advice and techniques to help people remember to make that kind of eye contact and to “be present” with whom you’re speaking. It’s definitely worth a visit.

He uses a short clip of a town hall meeting during the 1992 Presidential campaign as a model, contrasting the styles of George Bush and Bill Clinton. I’m embedding it here, but Ellsberg has a good analysis of it in his post that I’d encourage you to read.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


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  2. Hi Larry,

    I’d forgotten about how much I love Clinton (or maybe it’s his RDF instead) until I watched this video again and read Ellberg’s comments. Everything said makes perfect sense. No one wants to be with a teacher who is just interested in getting it over with. But beyond that, it’s worth reflecting on body language we do without thinking that might not contribute to being present in the classroom.

    Cheers for this,

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