Updated: Dec 13, 2020
“An enthusiastic teacher often spices the class with excitement, enjoyment, and anticipation; engages students to participate; and stimulates them to explore. Thus, teacher enthusiasm sparks the curiosity of students and jumpstarts their motivation to learn. Teacher enthusiasm can lead to better teaching evaluations, positive attitudes toward teachers, better student performance, and improved classroom behavior.” Natcom.org
A teacher’s enthusiasm and positive attitude have such an impact on the students in the classroom. Enthusiasm is defined as a state of mind. It inspires action and is the most contagious of all emotions. Enthusiasm inspires! An enthusiastic teacher can be described as one who is energetic, enjoys teaching, conveys a love for what she does, and is self-confident. Can you imagine having a teacher who does not have these qualities?
Student engagement depends on the teacher and her attitude towards teaching and what is going on in the classroom. Research has shown a direct correlation between a teacher’s enthusiasm and students being motivated to learn and do their best. A study at Cornell University showed a definitive link between the enthusiasm of a teacher and how students responded to activities and learning. The study simply focused on the inflections in the teacher’s voice to show enthusiasm. There was an overwhelming response from the students about how the change in the teacher’s voice made them more enthusiastic and excited to learn.
Personally, I saw this often in the classroom over my 27-year teaching career. An example I remember fondly occurred early one morning. A student walked into my room with a special gift she could hardly wait to give me, but it was her words that truly touched my heart and left me reflecting on how our attitudes affect our students.
“One of my students came in excited this morning because she had a present for me - several actually. She handed me these rings and the scarf. It was her words that went straight to my heart, "Mrs. Murrell, when you smile and get excited about something it just lights up the room! I know you love rings and scarves, so I wanted to give you these. I knew it would make you smile!"
It also made me cry, just a little.”
There it is, “when you smile and get excited about something it just lights up the room”. Our enthusiasm and attitude impact their lives, and their day. If we want them to learn and do their best, our attitudes should be something that motivates them! Be positive! Be excited!
Teachers transfer their emotions and attitudes to their students without even realizing it. Students are observant and perceptive, and it is our job to engage them in everything going on in the classroom. If our attitudes do not reflect a love for learning, enthusiasm, and excitement over what we are teaching, how can we expect our students to become enthusiastic and excited?
We want them excited about learning. Not every student is going to get excited about everything in the classroom, but the more the teacher is enthusiastic and has a positive attitude towards the subject she is teaching, the chances of her students being engaged are much greater. When your students become more excited and engaged in what is happening in the classroom, and your enthusiasm rubs off on them, the students become invested in their learning and are more likely to take the learning seriously. Student engagement also leads to fewer behavior problems in the classroom and fewer distractions.
Student engagement fits right in with that structured classroom and those high expectations. All characteristics of the best environment for students to achieve and succeed.