Teacher and appearance…controlling effects

Teacher and appearance…controlling effects
Teacher and appearance…controlling effects

The arrangement of the chairs, the decoration of the room or the physical appearance of the teacher are all elements that are part of the landscape of a classroom. The other elements are no less important but we will focus mainly on the appearance of the teacher. Its appearance has an undeniable effect in the transmission of knowledge. It is one of the elements of non-verbal communication (NVC). It is:

“any mode of communication having no recourse to the verb, consciously or not. These are silences, gestures, postures, body tension, movements, facial expressions, gaze, smile, tone of voice, rhythm of speech, clothing, proxemics, etc., which complete the verbal message” (Genevois , 1992).

Take your appearance into account in your job

In an article on the bodily presentation of the PE (Physical and sports education) teacher Magali Boizumault, Geneviève Cogérino (2012) affirm that

“Anticipating your NVC and what is shown to the students also allows you to control the emotions perceived by the students, in order to establish your authority and your charisma. “.

This statement does not only concern PE teachers. All teachers must take this into account.

It happened to me, once I entered class, to receive comments from students on my outfit or my physical appearance: “Sir, you are very smiling today”, “Sir, you have a new hairstyle”, “Sir, you are sad ” etc.

Many teachers are subject to these remarks from their students. The appearance of the teacher affects the lessons or at least does not leave the learners indifferent. It is therefore essential for the teacher to take care of certain aspects of his or her appearance: clothing, gaze, posture, accessories, facial expressions, etc.

Appropriate clothing

A society without rules can easily move toward anarchy. How can you ask a student to dress well if the teacher does not lead by good example.

Let’s take just one aspect of clothing, cleanliness. Imagine a teacher who wears dirty and odorous clothes, not only will he make his students uncomfortable, but he will not be able to serve as a role model for the cleaner ones. On the other hand, it can be copied by the less informed.

We are free to dress as we want but not in the context of education. The proof is that in France, certain clothes are prohibited at school, for various reasons. This is proof that clothing is important in teaching. Beyond the clothing, we have the look.

The teacher’s gaze and facial expression

The gaze is a very important aspect in public speaking, the teacher being a practitioner by obligation of public speaking, he must better manage his gaze. In addition to scanning the room, one’s gaze must be well managed in order to convey individual messages to students without necessarily attracting the attention of others. In the context of an assessment, for example, we can attract the attention of a student without necessarily disturbing the others:

“When the teacher blows, glares or, on the contrary, smiles and shakes his head in an ostensible manner, this is intended to be perceived by the student concerned but also by the class to promote this student or show control of the class to the group. » (Boizumault and Cogérino, 2012).

The teacher’s posture

Students, when they are studious, almost always stare at their teachers. The latter has the possibility of standing, sitting, walking around without his classroom or staying where he is. However, for better classroom management, he must walk around.

Walking around allows him to not give the impression of favoring certain students over others and makes it easier to control his students’ activities. When a teacher walks around, he can easily observe an error or a peculiarity in the notebook or on his student’s note sheet.

Other accessories

Glasses, watches, hats, schoolbags, means of transport, tattoos and so on are all elements that the teacher must take into account when he or she is in the workplace and often too outside his workplace.

A teacher who has a consistently disorganized desk cannot expect his students to organize theirs successfully. A teacher glued to his phone cannot ask students not to telesnob especially since he does not lead by example.

Sylvain, a teacher from the town of Essonne in France, told the television channel TF1 in 2020 that he could no longer intervene in kindergarten because his tattoos frighten the students…

A teacher must be a role model

Unfortunately, teaching is one of the professions where we are less free in terms of the choices that are part of the landscape of appearance. The profession places its practitioner in a context where he/she is always subject to scrutiny, particularly from his/her learners and by extension parents. He must then be a role model, especially if he teaches adolescents.

The teacher is a key factor in the learning process and his appearance must be neat and constantly monitored to ensure the effective transmission of knowledge. Appearances are deceiving, says the proverb, but it is necessary to be able to train citizens.


Boizumault, M., & Cogérino, G. (2012), “The bodily presentation of the PE teacher: non-verbal communications in the service of the teacher’s effectiveness”, Staps(4), pp. 67-79.

Genevois, G. (1992), Etho-psychology of communications and pedagogy. Summary, French journal of pedagogy, n° 100, July – August – September 1992, p. 81-103.

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