Learning is said to often occur haphazardly and randomly within the brain, but instruction should be anything but haphazard. Excellence in the classroom requires knowing when to use certain strategies, why to use them, and what to do next to achieve maximum learning potential from students. Mastering instructional accountability requires refocusing one's attention on practices that intentionally provide students with conditions that enhance the opportunity for learning. Great instruction is both an art and a science. 



The Power of Emotions 


"Play and games are thus joyfully important emotion/attention machines that can enhance the quality of a sheltered child's extended learning. "  --Robert Sylwester


Many students come to us with their own natural and readily available supply of curiosity and interest in learning. And the rest? Not quite so simple. When students are disengaged from the learning process it is nearly impossible to teach them. It becomes our task to determine the best way to reach these students--and it isn't easy. What's one way to get their attention? Plan instruction to include emotionally engaging instructional activities. 



Science -  something that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge

Emotions, now clearly tied to memory and learning, are processed within the amygdala complex which is a structure housed within the limbic system of the brain. While the amygdala is not the only learning center in the brain, it is highly recognized as providing strength to the formation of memories, especially those associated with strong feelings. While the value of emotional learning is without question, there are times when emotions can be a hindrance to learning as Dr. Robert Sylwester points out, "A sudden emotional stimulus can thus easily and immediately stop classroom activity -- and it's then neurologically difficult to get students to rationally shut off their emotional arousal and resume what they were doing.  Effective teachers, realizing that the disruptive emotional arousal will continue until the problem is resolved, simply take the time to resolve it before resuming what they were previously doing."  

Emotions run abundant in the classroom. The greater the understanding of the role of emotions in learning, the greater the inclination to planning instruction to address emotion as an opportunity for learning, an opportunity for intellectual growth, and better yet, as an opportunity for managing student behavior. 


Art - skill acquired by experience, study, or observation

Emotional learning purposefully involves the emotions of the learner during instructional activities. By planning valid emotional experiences within the classroom, whether heart warming stories, humor, human interest stories, curiosity, or even through the decision making process, teachers can stage the condition for building long term memory and emotional learning into their curriculum. Often educators take the approach that, when dealing with emotions in the classroom, the concern is focused on attitudes, acceptance, feelings, comfort, and safety. Possibly however, the most valuable source of capturing the potential impact of emotions on memory lies within the realm of purposefully triggering emotional responses that encourage learning during the instructional process. Through thoughtful engagement of students in learning activities that promote emotional involvement, such as decision-making, debates, play, art, storytelling, we stand a greater chance of reaching our students and teaching them. 

A Biological Brain in a Cultural Classroom : Applying Biological Research to Classroom Management  by Robert Sylwester
Connecting Brain Processes to School Policies and Practices  by Robert Sylwester
How Our Brain Determines What's Important  by Robert Sylwester
  Art, Comics, Debates, Decision making, Discussions, Drama, Games, Evaluate, Fairytales, Humor, Judging, Music, Play, Storytelling



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