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The Power of Your Presence: Utilizing Proximity

Utilizing the power of physical presence in the classroom is one of the most underrated tools in the classroom management toolkit.  Often times you don’t need to stop what you are doing to utilize this skill, as you can continue to teach the lesson uninterrupted.  When using your physical proximity to students, they will often self-correct their own behavior.   Jordan Catapano wrote in his article, “Classroom Management Tips for Using Proximity Control”, that there are 5 ways to effectively use proximity. 


  1. Stay on your feet” – Keeping yourself mobile will allow you to not only identify situations that require mild redirection, but also allows you to move into that area quickly.


  1. Stand close, but don’t hover” – Catapano advises to make sure you are close enough to “make your presence known, but don’t be so intrusive or prolonged that you make students uncomfortable.”  To help with this, wonder around the whole space, rather than just by the ‘problematic’ students.  This way, they will not think of you as intrusive, as you aren’t solely standing by them.


  1. Set the expectations early” – Let the students knows what is expected of them and how they are to be accomplishing those tasks. When you move about the area your “physical presence is a reminder of on-task behavior or the expected standard of conduct.” 


  1. Make yourself available” – Catapano remarks that not only does proximity help address negative behaviors, but it also allows for “turning good behaviors into great ones”.  He states that utilizing proximity in the classroom allows students who may not be comfortable making the walk to the teacher’s desk the ability “to ask questions, seek feedback, or even just focus harder”.


  1. Avoid using words” – “Let your presence do the talking”.  Often times, trying to verbally gain student’s attention not only adds to the noise, but could do more harm to classroom behavior than good.  Instead, simply let your physical presence be a reminder to encourage on-task behavior and “add words only if it becomes entirely necessary to do so.”



Out of all of the techniques that can be used to manage classroom behavior, utilizing your physical presence is the easiest and often the most effective with low level behaviors and situations. Capatano continues to list some of the benefits of utilizing proximity in the classroom stating that it allows the student to retain their dignity, redirects them respectfully, maintains instruction or work time, allows you to observe classroom behavior and reinforces the classroom expectations.  You can read the full article, “Classroom Management Tips for Using Proximity Control”, at

http://www.teachhub.com/classroom-management-tips-using-proximity-control.   If you have any questions, would like more information or have any tips or tricks of your own, please let us know at training@teachersoncall.com.