Emotions are inherently linked to learning, as they influence cognitive skills like attention, memory, decision-making, regulation, problem-solving and critical thinking. Given this, they can either enhance it or interfere with it. On the one hand, passion, curiosity, wonder, joy, interest, engagement and creativity are some examples of emotions that can positively impact the learning experience, as they can help the learner feel more motivated towards it by activating the reward system of the brain. On the other hand, emotions such as anxiety, stress, sadness, fear, worry, disengagement and disinterest can have a negative impact on learning and contribute to the decrease of the student’s motivation. For example, a confident child might be able to listen attentively, process the information, learn and take risks, whereas an anxious or fearful child may be unable to pay attention and participate. Being afraid of failing or seeming to be unprepared is a common feeling for an anxious child, who perceives those anxious and fearful thoughts and feelings as threats. By perceiving that threat, the learner will focus on it and will not be able to process the information he/she is receiving. Therefore, creating an emotionally safe environment in the classroom so that the learners feel at ease to grow, explore, take risks, make mistakes and learn from them is essential. By teaching students to be aware of their emotions, how to manage them and empathise with their colleagues’ emotions, the teacher is helping the learner to be in control of his/her own emotions and contributing to a fruitful and positive learning experience.
As pointed out before, building a positive environment in which the learner feels safe and motivated is crucial for a positive learning experience. Being a mentor to the learners, the teacher plays a key role in this. Watch the following videos for some tips on how to build a positive learning environment: