Emotional Resilience Affects Teaching

Emotions in the Brain

Good News

Your students, co-workers, and everyone around you are influenced by your emotions. As a teacher, caregiver, or a CEO of a company, you have the power to facilitate other people’s learning. You can make a difference to others by realizing that your emotional resilience is affecting your teaching and your students’ learning. All it takes is a smile and a display of positive emotions. Your students and everyone around you are influenced by your emotions. The first step is to become aware of your emotional resilience and emotional style. The first step is to become aware of your emotional resilience and emotional style.

Limbic System of Our Brain

Our emotions are mostly within the limbic system of our brain .The limbic system involvers our emotions, behaviour, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction (see Wikipedia). Yes, our emotions and memory or learning go hand in hand.  Emotions can influence our learning. The limbic system can open up or close down depending on the way a person relates to his or her circumstances.

Learning and Emotions

If a learner feels happy, the limbic system, which includes the learning processes, will be open and receptive to learning. If the learner is unhappy or stressed out in any way, the limbic system will close down and so will the learning that was supposed to take place. Learning can only be managed by happy people.

Stress and Teaching

Teaching can be stressful. Many studies on teachers, focus on teacher stress, burnout, and lack of skills to cope with management challenges in and out of the classroom. Symptoms of stress are related to teachers’ emotional style and resilience.

Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is the rate we recover from challenges we face on a daily basis. How fast or how slow do you get over things that happen to you during the day? It may take a minute, an hour, a whole day, weeks, months, years, or even a life time to get over unpleasant events in our lives.

Emotional resilience is based on our emotional style.  Emotional style is a habitual way of reacting to circumstances. The way we react to life and things we cannot control or if things we can, is based on our emotional style.

Dimensions of Emotional Style

In his book Emotional Life of Your Brain, Professor Richard J. Davidson discusses 6 dimensions of emotional style based on neuroscientific research (see Davidson’s book)

  1. Resilience is the rate of recovery from unpleasant circumstances.
  2. Outlook is the length of time you can keep your positive emotion.
  3. Social Intuition is your ability to notice social cues from other people.
  4. Self-Awareness is your ability to notice bodily feelings that reflect emotions.
  5. Sensitivity to Context is your ability to control and follow your emotional reactions during challenging circumstances.
  6. Attention is the quality of your focus. How clear and sharp is it?


What's your emotional style?

Take a Survey

Professor Richard J. Davidson created a survey to help you identify your emotional style. The survey consists of ten questions that will help you gain a better understand of  your Emotional Style of ‘Resilience’. This is what Davidson suggests

“If you are tempted to think long and hard about a question, or if you feel that there are too many nuances or exceptions, resist. The most accurate results come from making a snap judgment about whether a question is True of False about you. For questions pertaining to the remaining five styles–Outlook, Social Intuition, Self-Awareness, Sensitivity to Context and Attention–please refer to my book where questions for each of the styles are presented in their entirety” (Richard Davidson on Take a Survey).

You can take the survey here: http://richardjdavidson.com/take-survey.  You may share your findings and/or the process of taking the survey in the comment box of this blog post.

Student Emotional State

According to Robert Marzano, the most general influence on a student’s emotional engagement is a teacher’s positive stance. A teacher can display positive emotions by showing enthusiasm and passion as he or she communicate with the students. A teacher’s disposition and ongoing positive interactions with the students will have a profound effect on their learning outcomes.  So engage your students with a smile and the rest will follow.

Exercising  Your  Brain

You can improve your emotional resilience and and engage, motivate, and facilitate learning by exercising your brain and transforming your mind. The first exercise is to smile. It may not come naturally at first, but your brain will thrive on it and cause a ripple effect. You will soon be making a difference in your students’ and other people’s lives.

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