I was recently reunited with Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks: the use of games to reinforce basic math facts and place value. As I watched our teachers engage in play, I listened to the laughter in the room and the language they were using. I also watched a TED talk entitled “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” by Jane McGonigal.
Both of these experiences, reminded me that effective learning is tied to emotion. If I am excited about what I am learning, I will expend more energy and effort. If I am having fun, I am more likely to take ownership of my tasks. If I know that my teacher believes in me, I will have confidence in my own abilities. If I am encouraged to use my strengths (and shown what my strengths are), I will compensate for my challenges.
Recently I read Leadership: 50 Points of Wisdom for Today’s Leaders by General Hillier and Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery by Rachel Adams. Though vastly different in general topics, both books shared a focus on human relationships. When we relate with others – empathize, show compassion and take time to understand their circumstances – we become emotionally connected to those around us. We build relationships rooted in respect and all else naturally follows.
Let emotion find its way into your classroom. The laughter and the tears, the games and the humour, will add much to the learning environment.