Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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5. Feelings Count - Emotions and Learning

Session Content Outline

Key questions
  • How do emotions affect learning and how does the classroom affect emotions?
  • How can teachers foster emotional intelligence and create emotionally safe classroom environments?

Learning Objectives
  • Emotions affect learning – Teachers will understand how their students' emotions affect learning. Teachers will understand the need to make judgments about when emotions are interfering with or supporting learning.
  • Emotional intelligence – Teachers will consider and understand the five aspects of "emotional intelligence." They will begin to develop strategies to help themselves and their students become aware of and manage their emotions.
  • Creating emotionally safe learning environments – Teachers will consider how to create emotionally safe learning environments where students can take risks, develop confidence, and grow emotionally and academically.

Session Outline

Emotions are important in the classroom in two major ways:

  1. Emotions have an impact on learning. They influence our ability to process information and to accurately understand what we encounter. For these reasons, it is important for teachers to create a positive, emotionally safe classroom environment to provide for optimal student learning.
  2. Learning how to manage feelings and relationships constitutes a kind of "emotional intelligence" that enables people to be successful.

Emotions Affect Learning
  • Emotions are complex states of mind and body, consisting of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive reactions to situations, and they can be managed and directed.
  • It is critical to recognize the important link between emotions, thought, and action.
  • Our emotional state has the potential to influence our thinking.
  • Emotions can interfere with students' learning in several ways, including:
    • limiting the capacity to balance emotional issues with schoolwork
    • creating anxiety specifically about schoolwork
    • triggering emotional responses to classroom events

Developing Skills for Emotional Intelligence
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage feelings and relationships.
  • Daniel Goleman outlines five skills involved in emotional intelligence:
    1. being aware of one's emotions
    2. managing those emotions
    3. motivating oneself
    4. empathizing
    5. relating well with others in a group

Handling Social Relationships
  • Being aware of emotions, managing emotions, self-motivation, and having empathy for others are important as we engage in social relationships. Positive social relationships in school – working well with others and developing meaningful personal relationships—are often associated with positive academic achievement.
  • James Comer notes that teachers sometimes take for granted that children come to school able to manage their impulses. This is not the case for many children. Teachers often need to teach students how they are expected to behave, rather than assuming they are "bad" when they behave in ways that do not meet the teacher's expectations.
  • Teachers also need to understand how their own emotional intelligence influences the classroom. A teacher's positive state of mind and ability to manage her emotions and relationships productively are a model for her students. Teachers demonstrate how to express emotion and manage relationships when they communicate their feelings to students and show how to build respectful relationships with others.

Creating an Emotionally Safe Classroom Environment
  • An emotionally safe classroom environment is necessary for students' cognitive learning, growth, and creative expression.
  • Teachers can create emotionally safe classrooms by –
    • affirming students' accomplishments in noncompetitive ways
    • encouraging self-confidence
    • providing opportunities to take risks without penalty
    • giving thoughtful feedback
  • Teachers can foster positive relationships with their students by conveying respect and compassion for students by –
    • conveying respect and compassion for students
    • listening carefully to them
    • responding to their needs and feelings
  • Teachers can create an emotionally safe classroom environment by providing targeted, positive feedback on successful elements of work in conjunction with suggestions for improvement.
  • Emotionally safe learning environments can be developed with purposeful action.

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