Teacher ‘Power Poses’ Build Confidence, Research Says
A power pose in the classroom or board room projects confidence outwardly while lowering stress levels.
Oct. 10, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – A TED talk on “power poses” has captured more than 20 million views online and grabbed the attention of publishers, celebrities and media.
Although backed with new research, the message is a familiar one to staff and students at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS. They have practiced similar advice for years: stand with confidence and you will project that image to others — and yourself.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School, spoke about “power poses” in 2012 at TED Global, and the recording of her presentation and research continues to grow in popularity.
At Corbett Prep, power poses are known as student and teacher presence. Hips are aligned with the shoulders, shoulders are set back and eyes gaze forward when standing, whether you are speaking before a classroom or involved in a one-on-one conversation.
Headmaster Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman incorporates this type of posture into her trainings for Corbett Prep and schools nationally and internationally. Teacher presence is one of the seven components of the school’s M.O.R.E. (Multiple Options for Results in Education) model. The M.O.R.E. approach to teaching creates a brain-friendly environment to accelerate learning. Teachers set a tone in their classrooms through nonverbal behaviors that send a message to students about intentions to build strong connections.
Teachers need to convey “I care,” which is achieved through verbal skills as well as hand gestures, tonality and, of course, posture. Students respond to the nonverbal cues teachers give them, and Cuddy’s research now reveals a benefit to the teachers themselves.
In a 2010 paper, Cuddy and two other researchers studied how body language can affect body chemistry. Participants who spent two minutes alone doing powerful poses decreased the stress hormone cortisol by about 25 percent. As a result, they performed better in stressful situations, helping them connect naturally with others’ thoughts and feelings.
A strong stance is an easy change that could have big results. Teachers, job candidates, corporate leaders and more can benefit from the increased confidence and lower stress that “power poses” might bring. What you say is important, but your presence plays a big role in how you say it and how it is received. And it all starts with how you stand.