Everyone learns better when they are engaged and feeling positive. During adolescence the emotional component of learning is doubly important. Adolescents process information through the amygdala, the emotional centre of the brain and teachers who understand the implications of this can enjoy increased student outcomes. It’s all about building relationships in order to maximise these precious interactions.
The brain is still under construction during adolescence. There is a neural pruning taking place and it’s very much a case of ‘use it or lose it’. There has been an explosion in understanding the impact of brain development on learning. When I studied teaching back in the 1970s there was little understanding of neuroscience and the impact of emotion on learning. Over the years I have encountered many teachers who have missed opportunities to engage and inspire students. 20 years ago when my daughter was in high school one of her maths teachers responded to a student question with ” I can’t be bothered with people who don’t understand.”
Most of us think fondly of a teacher who made a difference in our lives. It’s no surprise that high schoolteachers who show enthusiasm and knowledge of their subject and are able to communicate that to their students are then able to build relationships where students flourish. Studies show indications of positive teacher relationships related to improved academic functioning. Here’s a link to one such study:
Teachers have enormous power to influence and awaken a love of learning in their students and we remember the great teachers in our lives because they were the ones who loved learning and provoked curiosity and enthusiasm for knowledge in their students.