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In the Mood for Learning

Director of Wellness and Support Christina Kim and Middle School counselor Amy Summers hosted a collaborative lunch-and-learn for interested Middle School faculty on Friday, September 30. Summers presented information about the “mood meter,” a tool from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, designed to explore emotions through the lens of energy level and pleasantness of thoughts/feelings. Teachers learned that by recognizing emotions in themselves and others, they are able to develop and identify strategies to regulate or shift these emotions as needed.

“The main takeaway for me was the impact of my mood on the success of the lesson, activity, or entire class,” said Kip Digges, Middle School modern languages teacher. “My homework is to gauge my mood before entering the classroom and try to take any steps to get my mood to where it needs to be before trying to teach the class.”

It’s not just about the teacher’s mood though; the students’ moods are equally important. “This session combined well with previous professional development in Culturally Responsive Teaching by showing that we need to create multiple options of classroom activities for students coming into the classroom with different mindsets,” said Nick Johnson, Middle School modern languages teacher. “I look forward to continuing to learn about how to bring students from one state of being to another to be able to match an activity in class.”

Faculty members also engaged in discussion about mood-congruent instruction — the idea that different activities and ways of teaching work best according to the moods and energy levels of the students, which, in turn, optimizes the learning environment. “I learned how I can harness my students’ emotional energy with specific activities,” said Hannah Kolkin, Middle School math department coordinator. “This requires a lot of pivoting and prep but I want to meet them where they are.”

Some teachers found ways to put their new skills into practice right away. “I used the information almost immediately with one of my Talk III classes. My students seemed to be low on energy, and I adapted the lesson to involve group conversation and movement to maximize their engagement,” said Donell Thompson, Director of Service Learning and Middle School math teacher. Without the session, “I am not sure I would have been as attuned to mood in the same way.”


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