A bad mood spoils the lessons for everyone involved – but fortunately, even a good mood is absolutely contagious. There are three effective tricks for a pleasant and positive learning atmosphere can be learned here from experienced colleagues.
Everything is easier when the mood is right
Do you remember a really bad day? A day when you got up in the morning with the wrong leg? Maybe the alarm clock didn’t ring, you spilled your coffee, then there was a traffic jam on the way to school and to top it all off, you had left all the worksheets at home.
Do you remember a really good day? One where many small things happened, but they were all half as wild? You woke up in a good mood in the morning. Luckily, you were able to sleep a few minutes longer, because the alarm clock somehow didn’t ring. The coffee stain was not noticeable on the sample blouse, in the traffic jam, you could listen to your favorite music a little longer. And in class, you improvised so sensationally that the forgotten worksheets were not bad at all.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that it all boils down to the realization that our mood is crucial. She decides whether something is a small hurdle or a big problem, whether the students seem particularly cheerful or just loud, and how the lessons go. As a teacher, you are the center of the learning process and – in the truest sense of the word – the mood maker. A good mood is literally spreading, it infects, tears along, and motivates. In a pleasant atmosphere, learns better and with an appreciative interaction with each other also much faster.
What can you do to create a good mood in your class? Based on the guide “Great mood! – 50 methods for a successful cooperation and a positive learning atmosphere at school” by the team of authors of nlpaed (Verlag an der Ruhr, ISBN 978-3-8346-2617-2), on which the entire article is based, we have selected three effective tips for you.
Tip 1: The sound makes the music
Linguistic precision is extremely important – unfortunate wording makes it unnecessarily difficult for you and the students. In psychology, the triggering of unconscious chains of associations is also referred to as “priming”: This refers to the influence of external stimuli on information processing. The words you choose unconsciously trigger feelings in students that either encourage or hinder learning. Often the students also directly associate other terms and contents with their words, which makes it easier for them to classify the new information.
Therefore, be sure to trigger positive emotions in the students, because they promote learning and retention. The basic rule: Good mood starts with you. Make yourself aware of your own inner attitude and, if necessary, bring yourself into a good mood through consciously positive thoughts. Do not go to your lessons frustrated, tired or unmotivated – otherwise, this will also be transferred immediately to your students.
Take a critical look at your work materials and pay attention to the formulations. It is better to replace “must” or “should” with “may”, “can” or “want”. Words such as “safe”, “calm”, “natural”, “easy”, but also “master”, “solve”, “easy”, “good”, “yes” and “joy” or “enthusiasm” trigger positive chains of associations. Especially with new content, you should make sure that the corresponding texts evoke pleasant associations and always suggest that the students will master the material very soon.
You can continue to use working materials with which you have always achieved very good learning success without hesitation. For lesson sequences and materials that didn’t go smoothly or the students were unfocused or even obviously frustrated, you should double-check. Then, in the next step, pay attention to your choice of words in class. If you ever find yourself saying something like: “You have to listen carefully and make an effort, this is a difficult topic!”, it is best to add: “Oh, for you it is certainly very easy! You have already mastered so many difficult things very easily, you will learn this here in no time.” Forgive yourself for your mistakes – anything else will only create a bad mood.
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Tip 2: Deal with mistakes positively
You should also not (consciously or unconsciously) instill in your students the attitude that mistakes must be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, mistakes provide important insights into learning levels and learning processes. Make sure your lessons are an error-friendly learning space. Establish a positive error culture and lead by example.
For example, if you want a student to solve an exercise on the board, you can intervene as soon as they make a mistake. But you can also just inquire about his train of thought and let him find the fault himself. Give the student all the time they need to complete the task – criticism, heckling or well-intentioned improvements are strictly prohibited. In most cases, the mental blocks quickly become visible and you can understand exactly where the student is mentally taking the wrong path. Always keep in mind: With every mistake that a student makes on the blackboard step by step visibly and comprehensibly, he usually helps some other students who make similar mistakes in thinking.
Tip 3: Rules are not only good for the “little ones”
Clear rules are also important for older and even adult students – for respect, appreciation, and the ability to cooperate, in short: for positive cooperation. However, they often react annoyed to the topic of “teaching rules”.
Try a small “memory round” and let the students write down the milestones of their school careers. What motivated them to learn? What hindered them? What were your personal highlights? And what about their crises? The students should briefly exchange their experiences with their seat neighbors.
Then ask them to write down on appropriate cards what helped them the most in class to be able to learn well. They should then attach the cards to the board with a short explanation. For most students, rest and the support of teachers and classmates will be particularly important.
Then pull out the rules poster that you have already prepared and ask if the students agree with the rules proposed there. For older students, three “simple” rules are usually sufficient:
- Every student has a right to learn.
- Every teacher has a right to tuition.
- Everyone has to accept the rights of others