Emotions and learning are inseparable. Positive emotions generated as students and teachers begin their shared learning experiences can shape the learning days that follow. Steve shares how “wow” experiences can tap the desired emotions along with examples from teachers.
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Steve [Intro]: 00:00 Hello and welcome to the teacher edition of the Steve Barkley ponders out loud podcast. The complexity of teaching is both challenging and rewarding and my curiosity is piqued whenever I explore with teachers the multiple pathways for facilitating student engagement in the exciting world of learning. This podcast looks to serve teachers as they motivate and support their learners. Thanks for listening. I’M delighted you’re here.
Steve: 00:34 Plan now for an opening “wow” to tap students, emotions. Emotions and learning are inseparable. In many ways, planning for learning includes planning for positive emotions. I read a blog titled, “Emotions and Learning: What Role do Emotions Play in How and Why Students Learn? That blog stated, “emotions can both enhance and interfere with learning, depending on which ones are driving or coloring the experience. Emotions can also be contagious with strong, positive, or negative emotional states infecting others in the learning environment. Positive learning emotions include interest, curiosity, wonder passion, creativity, engagement, and joy. These activate the reward system of the brain, make the experience desirable and aid in focused and attention.” You’ll find the link to that blog in the lead-in to this podcast. Here are some thoughts on planning, a wow to tap students emotions.
Steve: 02:19 Several years back, I read a book by Tom Peters called, “The Pursuit of Wow” and Peters talked about the the need for businesses and organizations to to wow their customers. So how often do you get your customer to say, “wow” is a is an indicator of of your success. So if you’re providing a service, how often do you hear customers go, “wow” if you’ve created a new product, when you put it out on the, on the shelves, in the store, when people walk by and they touch or pick up that new product, are you likely to hear a “wow?” Peter’s writing drew me to watch it happen in my life. I’m checking into a hotel and it’s 12 o’clock at night and they’ve handed me a warm cookie. And as I’m getting on the elevator, I’m going, “wow.”
Steve: 03:13 But it did the trick. Can you think about the last time you were to a restaurant and you were wowed? Some restaurants wow you by size of portion. You go to the steakhouses and they bring the raw meat out and you get to look at it and pick one. There’s a restaurant I went to where they had a 50 ounce steak and I hope nobody ever orders that. That’s not a steak, it’s a roast.
Steve: 03:52 Once dinner gets up to $75 or $80, you don’t get a whole carrot, only fours slivers, but each one is strategically located on the plate. You just paid $25 for a brownie, but it’s got a red, white, and blue stripe through it with a flag on it and the plate is on fire as they deliver it. Well, as I worked through that, I thought, where does that belong in schools? And is it a strategy a teacher could use? Can a teacher sit down at the end of the week and look through the previous week of learning and say, “how often did I hear wow from my learners?” Now you can’t wow kids all the time, or you’d be entertaining them. But you need that spark of wow plugged in every now and then. As you think to the start of the school year, to me, that’s the time when wows should really happen.
Steve: 04:35 Kids ought to head home from that first day of school with a sense of of wow. And over the years, I’ve collected examples. I believe science teachers may have it the easiest – first day of school, they’re gonna blow something up and all the kids are are wowed. I met a high school teacher who, on the first day of school shows up in not only in costume, but in character of the lead in the novel that the that the kids are going to be reading. I met a great fourth grade teacher and she she came into the school and on the first day of school, she had the secretary deliver a gift wrapped box to her classroom. And it was a rather large box, a big bow on it, and a letter attached and she opened it up and she read the card out to the kids.
Steve: 05:26 And the card said, “this is a gift to the fourth grade students to be opened as soon as you know the volume of the box.” And that she said to the kids, does anybody know what volume is? And none of the kids knew. And she said, “well, I think it’s math.” And so the kids are all flipping through their math books and they find the formula and she puts that up. And so now, now they have to do measurement and then when they do measurement, they found fractions and it took almost three weeks for the kids. And every day she’d take the box and she’d put it back up on the shelf. And the next day the kids would come in and say, “can we do do math now?” And she’d bring the box back out and the kids would work on it.
Steve: 06:00 And so finally there came the day that the kids had figured out the volume of the box, and they had a big celebration. They opened it up and inside the box was a giant plastic bag filled with candy – a long string of it just round and round and round and round. And it was all tied tight with a big bow and it said written on a card on the bow, “when you can divide me evenly, you can eat me.” Here’s the best part of that story was, months later at Christmas time, the kids left a present on the teacher’s desk, all gift wrapped. And when she went to open it, the whole class yelled out, “you can’t open it until you tell us the the volume of the box!” So I wanna encourage you at this time of the year to be thinking about, do you have a wow planned for your kids to kick off that opening day of school? I worked with a high school in New Jersey and nearly 90% of the teachers agreed to open school with a wow activity in their classrooms on that first day. And the principal reported back to me that he received phone calls from parents who couldn’t believe the way that their high school students came home from that first day of school.
Steve: 07:23 Part of the positive, emotional impact of providing wow experience for our learners is that they tap our positive emotions which add to the positiveness of the overall experience. Students first experiences with a teacher can impact the learning days that follow. This is a payoff worth the effort. I hope the upcoming school year gets off to a great start for you. Thanks for listening.
Steve [Outro]: 08:00 Thanks for listening in folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @Steve Barkley, or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.