I imagine that you were drawn to the teaching profession to inspire students to reach their highest levels of success, personally and academically. You have been accomplishing this as you have been providing information and skills to build students’ social-emotional intelligence. As we have discusses in previous blogs, by focusing on building social-emotional abilities, you have also been indirectly affecting students’ academic abilities. Research indicates that as social-emotional intelligence increases, academic prowess does as well.
It is possible to create an educational environment based on what we know about social-emotional intelligence to directly support students’ academic abilities. We can build an environment most conducive to supporting students’ emotional needs, which is also most likely to lead to their apprehension of the academic content we are offering.
This kind of environment is based on the way we look at our students. Despite our occasional doubts, we can view our students as innately capable, curious, natural learners. We can ask ourselves, if this is the case, how do we best ignite these natural qualities? Does this happen in a static atmosphere that sometimes seems designed to stuff content into uninterested minds? Or can we engage students in a more dynamic, joyous, exciting environment?
What kind of a student might emerge from such an environment? What is your vision for your students? One educator shares his “When it all works, I’d like the kid to be an inquisitive learner. To be somebody who is excited about reading a book or learning something. A person who is strong enough to stand up and speak for what he or she wants. A person…who is continuing to learn and to grow. Somebody who understands him or herself and understands learning. That’s what’s important”. Wood, George (1993). Schools That Work. p57, Penguin Group
I realize that there are many aspects of the educational environment in which you teach over which you exert little control. Conditions such as physical plant, schedule, and overall curriculum are often out of your hands. However, even within these constraints, you can have agency over many factors in your classroom.
Over the next several blogs, we will explore how taking control of these factors can lead to the development of an inspirational educational environment and more inspired students. We will explore areas such as content; approaches; methods; materials; use of space, homework and assessment options.
We will explore ways to create a more joyful atmosphere in which to teach and learn. This will be an atmosphere where curiosity and deep inquiry will be encouraged, critical thinking will occur and creativity will emerge.