Eye Contact: Students

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

We connect with our loved ones through eye contact. We experience approval, discontent, joy, etc... These connections are the impressions that design our personality. As a proponent of attachment theory, it is common knowledge that emotions are shared & solidified through our eye contact.

This repertoire of connections make-up our self-perception, communication style and expectations of self and others.


Every student knows what it is like to try to understand the eye contact ‘rules’ in class. Unexpected disapproval may offset emotive responses. A seemingly insignificant interaction may impact a student for the rest of the day, week or year. Keeping a young person’s self-perception in tact, is something any parent may perceive as work (that is) automatically included in a teacher's expectations of his or her role.

Although teaching is an upstanding profession it may not be deemed so from certain vantages. Well, this is the arguing ground that bypasses the point that needs to be made. An individual student’s makeup is certainly complex with temperament, experiences, home life, academic ability, and disabilities being what they are. In other words, teachers ABSOLUTELY 100% need students to help one another connect and approve of one another.

MISA/MISP is perfect to add to the self-perception of a student and a classroom dynamic.

Communication Style

In order to remain objective about the messages that we give and receive. We should consider what is standard give and take in conversations. Although, so many things impact our interactions. How we start the year, week and day often have real impact. Rather than giving up control, or making excuses, or even feeling less valuable than you are; we have to set the course toward respect.

We often rely on eye contact that builds up. We are appreciative of those that see the best in us. We are kept to a standard by those who believe in us, by and through discipline including encouragement (D. Dinkmeyer et. al, 1997).

Although, often youngsters have wounded trust issues or rightly built trust slowly. Teachers have to muster up their inner resources so often. We need them to find the best in themselves as well.

Touch that makes room for insecurities and respectful boundaries may bring a little of the innocence we so hope for back to the fore (Elmsäter & Hetu, 2007).

Expectations of Self and Others

We are all unique. We know this. But a teacher has the task of helping students step into who they are becoming! High calling. Teachers are critical of themselves and their students. While supervisors critique teachers.

It is often the immediate response (impulses) that need to be controlled and/or considered. MISP helps us with this (Elmsäter & Hetu, 2007). We are accountable for motivating their goals. The Message in School Program smothers the notion of control and/or being considered (Elmsäter & Hetu, 2007). It gives a whole class experience of muddling the students’ insecurities. Hopefully even making room for ‘healthy humble.’

This is a foreign concept to many of us public school survivors! And an effective quality to settle into. To be humbled because of care would supplant reptilian rebukes. You know, the survival mode insistences! Rather, feeling acceptable amid the "mini-traumas of development" (Petro, n.d.) can be potentially beautiful.

The knowledge gleaned from these student interactions can help you, the teacher, engage with more empathy. Adult understanding of who your student is and what they are working with, on an emotional level, promotes eye contact communication that avoids placating. We can only do our best, we need help and the little hearts that are all around us need a forum to be who they are as ‘cared for.’

Although, forgive the usage of the word PLACATING. I am perfectly aware that there is a place for this engagement. My vantage breeds empathy that is "one arm of a star" (Petro, n.d.) so to of, more than one, needed vantages.


D. Dinkmeyer, G. McKay, D. Dinkmeyer. (1997). The Parent's Handbook. STEP Publishers, LLC.

M. Elmsäter & S. Hetu. (2007). MISP: Massage in Schools Programme: Hands-on Respect. UR Publications & Programmes Inc.

J. Petro (n.d.).

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