If you’re not slouching right now, give yourself a pat on the back. And if you are, well straighten up your back and pay attention. While it’s a given that how the mind engages in the classroom is the most important part of learning, how your body acts can be just as important for a student.
To a professor, students’ body language is a direct reflection of how focused he or she is at any given moment, conveying possible boredom, interest, or even disdain a student feels for a particular subject.
And, much like smiling for no particular reason can make a person happier, conveying concentration with body language can help students’ minds perform better by giving them an extra edge in feeling concentrated.
But whether to improve your outward appearance as a student, or to keep yourself working comfortably and efficiently, or a little of both, every student can use a reminder that healthy body language equals a healthy mind.
Pick the right seat
Where you sit affects your comfort, attention span, and engagement. If you get distracted easily, sit up front, or if your sight makes you strain you neck to see from a certain distance, arrive early and sit where you see the board best.
Simply relaxing and keeping the body loose can do wonders for your focus. To help relax, especially before tests, inhale a few deep breaths, hold, and slowly exhale each. If you’re really tense, slowly contract and release your muscles a few times while breathing slowly. When your body is loose your mind stays clear and information gets processed better. Making eye contact with your professor can also show a sense of ease in you, keep you engaged, and build a trust with him or her.
Keep your feet flat
Crossing your legs or putting them on the seat in front of you may be comfortable, but it’s not helpful to learning. Keep your feet flat on the ground at about a 90-degree angle (feet and knees) to help your blood-flow, relaxation, and as some believe, even improve how much you remember.
Heels – neck – back
Once you sit down, try to follow the heels-back-neck rule (that is, keep all three in an approximate vertical line) until the time you up. This posture will prevent soreness and make you come across as attentive to the professor. Slouching, which has the opposite effective, can be prevented by closing the gap between your lower back and the back of the chair.
When you need to take a break, rather than texting or putting your head down, which can come off as rude to your professor, take a short five outside class. Stepping outside at least once every hour will ease your eyestrain and stretch your muscles out. Bringing a reusable water bottle to class that you refill once or twice is a great way to get up for a break. Also, make sure to stretch your wrists every half hour to prevent carpal tunnel if you’re typing.
What language does your body speak in the classroom? Tell us on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.