Imagine walking into your classroom after a night spent tossing and turning. The weight of testing and papers to be graded is heavy on your shoulders as you push open the heavy door. A notice about cancelled specials has been slid under your door and it slides across the room as you breathe out a sigh of frustration. You’re tired, you’re overworked, and the last thing you feel is enthusiastic about the day. Yet you know that in order to teach those amazing eight year olds that will be filing down the hallway in ten minutes you must fake enthusiasm until you actually begin to feel it. So, you do, because at the end of the day your students are what keeps you going.
Enthusiasm in the Classroom – Why You Need It (Or Need to Fake It)
Enthusiasm. It is a word that is tossed around, but can be hard to describe. The definition, “a strong excitement of feeling,” is easier to understand when you see it in action. That is especially true when you have the opportunity to observe a teacher who tackles her job with enthusiasm. One enthusiastic teacher can transform a class and make a significant impact on the lives of her students. If you are feeling a little less than enthusiastic about this school year, take a look at what enthusiasm does and how it can make a difference in your classroom.
In a study that Cornell University did in the late 90s, they showed that there was a definitive link between the enthusiasm in a teacher’s voice and how students responded. A professor taught the exact same class, the first time using his normal tone of voice and the second semester using a more enthusiastic tone. The students in the second semester not only rated the teacher higher on class evaluations, but also indicated that they had learned more than the first semester students. Ironically, both classes scored the same on tests and assessments, but the perception by second semester students was that they had gotten a better education.
By modulating your voice to indicate that you are more passionate about the subject you are teaching, the odds of students responding positively to the lesson increase. When your class becomes engaged and your enthusiasm rubs off on them, they become invested in their learning. This is extremely important, because students who are invested in their education are much more likely to take it seriously. That shift in attitude then leads to fewer behavior problems and classroom management issues.