I’ve written several times about the power of touch in the classroom, and they’ve all received a lot of feedback.
I’ve just read some additional studies that say a light touch on the upper arm can increase “compliance” substantially, and two light touches can increase it even more. In addition, a touch can result in a higher positive response rate to a request for help.
I thought readers might be interested in seeing my earlier posts on the topic, along with multiple comments left by others on them:
The Power of “Touch” In The Classroom
“Sense of Touch Colors Our View of the World”
Why is a touch on the arm so persuasive?
The power of a light touch on the arm
Should Teachers Be Allowed to Touch Students? is from The Atlantic.
Doug Lemov has a nice post on using touch in the classroom.
Americans, It’s Time to Get Comfortable With Platonic Touch is from The NY Times.
Feedback on this topic are welcome!
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Thanks for writing about the topic of “touch” in the classroom. As a first year teacher, I am always a bit weary about having any type of contact whatsoever with my students. However, by nature I want to celebrate a student’s success by a casual high-five, or a light pat on the shoulder to applaud their good work. I have also used a light pat on the shoulder to redirect a student’s attention to the focus at hand, and have generally found good results from this form of touch. However, I work with newcomer English Language Leaners, and I am always trying to be aware and respectful of their cultural norms and pysical boundaries. What may be an accepted practice in our culture may be viewed as inappropriate or uncomforable for others. Always trying to find that balance.
This is probably true for most students but I can remember distinctly 2 instances where I touched a kid on the shoulder when talking to them and they jerked away. One ever yelled “Don’t Touch Me!” In both cases I was trying to discuss an issue they were having but wasn’t admonishing them or anything. I can only imagine that they felt that I was and took my touch as trying to control them or something. It really took me aback after the student yelled and I never did it again.
Your comment reminded me of a similar experience that I had posted about, but had forgotten to include on the list. I’ve now added it there, and here: