Welcome back to this week’s segment of After School Tea Time! Get your tea cups ready because we have more to spill this week! Keep your questions coming because you could be helping someone who has similar questions!
Question from Hartford County- The students in our program have expressed that it is hard to communicate with our staff because of masks. They say that they can’t tell how we are feeling because they can’t see the emotion on our faces. Some have even expressed that we look angry or upset most of the time. We can we do to improve our nonverbal communication with them?
Hey Hartford, thank you for asking this question. Nonverbal communication has been difficult especially during this time. It is important for your students to know how your staff is feeling. If they constantly feel like you are all in a bad mood it can start to effect how they interact in the program. There are other ways of expressing your emotions that would be helpful to them while wearing masks. You can create some sort of system in your program where you can “check-in” how you are feeling for the day. You and your staff can even have ones for yourselves and participate. You can use different smiley faces, numbers or even words. You can check-in how you’re feeling at the beginning of the day and then “check-out” how you’re feeling at the end of the day. Participation doesn’t have to be mandatory for students, but if you and your staff make sure to check-in and check-out it would help your students know how the staff is feeling that day. Another method you can try is to talk with your hands as much as possible and also use your eyes. Even though they can’t see your mouths, your eyes are another way that you can show emotion. If a student comes to you directly and asks you if you are okay, you can always respond to them directly. You can even give a reminder to the whole group that it is okay to ask the staff how they are feeling if they are unsure. This is a great way for them to practice emotion regulation with each other and your staff. Here is a video on how to help students read emotions behind masks. We hope this is helpful!
We’ll see you next week for another segment of After School Tea Time! Don’t forget to submit your anonymous questions here.