This chapter explores the importance of interaction in the classroom and its role in creating a positive learning environment. It examines teacher behaviour and its impact on students, their confidence and motivation to learn. The importance of teacher–student interactions in the classroom as well as via online study is explored. Interaction in the classroom refers to more than spoken communication; it also refers to the emotional meanings created by the teacher’s gestures and expressions, including their stance and ways of moving. An example of the latter would be how the teacher approaches students, whether quietly and assuredly or more forcefully and authoritatively. While the meaning of such behaviour varies in accordance with context and perspective, we see that the way the teacher behaves and interacts with students has a major influence on the emotional climate of the class both online and face-to-face. In addition, classroom interaction also includes the kind of activities that the teacher employs to engage their students in learning, because well-designed, engaging and supportive activities can greatly enhance the emotional climate of the classroom and students’ motivation to learn. In this chapter, all aspects of interpersonal interaction are referred to as embodied behaviour, in order to highlight the importance of body language as well as spoken language in communicating with students. Examples of teacher–student interactions and their impact on student learning are provided and discussed. Focus questions are also provided to stimulate reflection on each example, followed by a more detailed discussion of the implications for teaching.
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