Enthusiasm is defined as (according to brainyquote.com):

…Enkindled and kindling fervor of soul;

strong excitement of feeling on behalf of a cause or a subject;

ardent and imaginative zeal or interest;

as, he engaged in his profession with enthusiasm.

…Lively manifestation of joy or zeal.

Hmmm, engaged in his profession with enthusiasm. I guess this post is related to my recent one on job satisfaction.

I found the above definition while looking for quotes on enthusiasm:

(my friend Kim D. will appreciate this one 🙂

A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one – Mary Kay Ash

I also like the optimism in this quote:

A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm – C. Schwab

Yet…I need to be reminded that enthusiasm can only go so far:

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance – J. W. von Goethe

But…enthusiasm can still make a difference ‘in the real world’ –

The one attribute that correlates most highly with students’ overall evaluation of the teacher is what students call “enthusiasm.” The teachers’ focus, sense of being present, and evident love of the task at hand

Richard Mann (In McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006, p. 282-283)

When listing my research interests, I find it interesting that I chose to list stress and anxiety. It seems I am not alone. Or perhaps that is why I chose to list the unpleasant emotions, because that is the type of research articles I am used to reading.

Most research on emotion related to teachers and students has focused on the unpleasant (e.g., fear, stress) rather than the pleasant (interest, joy) emotions. So as I prepare to give a lecture on emotion in one of my classes, I am challenging myself to focus on the pleasantries 🙂

My lecture is coming up…on Friday…so I will try to set aside my unpleasant emotions – such as the anxiety related to presenting to my peers – and instead I will focus on getting my enthusiasm across for the topic:

“enjoyment and enthusiasm in the classroom”

Researchers (Frenzel, Goetz, Ludtke, Pekrun, & Sutton, 2009) of the article Emotional Transmission in the Classroom: Exploring the Relationship between Teacher and Student Enjoyment found that teacher enthusiasm mediates the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment.

So while it is valid and important to research unpleasant emotions in the classroom that impede learning – like anxiety – it is equally important to investigate pleasant emotions – like enjoyment – because they:

“foster problem-solving, protect health by promoting resiliency…”

“are positively related with learning- related motivation, self-regulatory efforts, activation of cognitive resources, and performance…”

“form the basis of interest and the willingness to reengage in academic contents over time…”

Frenzel et al., 2009, p. 705

So how can enjoyment or enthusiasm be measured?

How would you know if I was ‘enthusiastic’ ?

…the behaviors associated with expressions of enjoyment, such as smiles and widened eyes, high and variable pitch, and higher speaking speed are those behaviors associated with an enthusiastic teaching style…teacher enjoyment must be made visible and expressed as an enthusiastic teaching style in order for it to influence student enjoyment. In other words, a teacher’s own experienced enjoyment will positively affect student enjoyment to the extent that teacher enjoyment translates into enthusiasm during teaching

Frenzel, et. al., 2009, p. 706

…Smile + Widened eyes = Enthusiasm?

Yes…I guess you could say I was an enthusiastic teacher…

This photo was taken in my classroom on the “100th day” of school. (…am I really sharing this photo online…?!)

We had a surprise visit from “Superhero Zero” who brought us a bag of 100…into our classroom of 100 balloons where each student had brought 100 items from home…

…and yes, I had 100 elastics in my hair and a necklace of 100 paper clips…I guess I was enthusiastic about math…

So I can say that I have experienced the relationship between teacher enjoyment and student enjoyment – and I agree that enjoyment is mediated by enthusiasm.

When I saw the enthusiasm in the faces of 6-year olds as they shared with me something new they had learned – I became equally enthusiastic. Everyday it seemed there was something new and fascinating to learn about. So I found myself equally enthusiastic about the survival skills of penguins, the life cycle of the salmon, creating a new colour while painting…seriously – it was a joy.

Their enthusiasm for learning – like a smile – was contagious 🙂

I’ll end this post with the following video clip…as I go back to planning my lecture on enjoyment and enthusiasm in the classroom…I sure hope my enthusiasm for this topic will come through stronger than my anxiety!

Enjoy this 7 minute video clip from the TED website from R. Gutman on ‘smiling’ 🙂

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