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Appropriate Use of Touch in Class

Touching students in class is an area of some controversy. What is appropriate? Is it ok to use it to create a bond with and encourage students?
Recently I observed a new teacher and noticed that the discipline problems that had been causing problems might simply have stemmed from an over emphasis on establishing discipline at the expense of warmth. I have noticed how eye contact, smiling and a little nudge on the shoulder seem to foster a bond with students that doesn’t exist with a strictly hands off approach. Obviously this style of teaching should be approached with caution. I think appropriate touching should only involve the hand, arm, shoulder and possibly back. If a student is very young and doesn’t answer a simple question such as how old are you? I find the merest touches on the hand of a neighboring student and asking the same question brings a correct response. I go around the table asking everyone and return to the original student who will invariably answer correctly.
If I quickly check written homework at the table and I see a mistake, I will circle and give the student a gentle arm nudge, smile and say well done, now fix those mistakes. 
If a rambunctious very young male student who is often failing starts doing well,  I’ll give him a little squeeze on the shoulders and say well done. If a student is having real problems remembering a letter when writing, I will ask her neighbor to write the letter with a finger on the students back. Kids love this. A student might begin to get rowdy as we sing a song, I find a gentle squeeze of the hand or wrist is enough to bring the student into line. When very young students leave the class I try to give them a high or low five, they enjoy this.
The areas I think are out of bounds are not to touch girls on shoulders {George Bush style with Angela Merkel, ] Obviously with boys and girls, lower body is out of bounds and extreme gentleness and respect at all times.
I strongly believe if we treat our students with love and respect they will respond to you so much better than if we constantly say don’t do this or that.
Dave and Amy

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