This Week for Faculty: Reinvigorate your teaching practice

by | Jun 18, 2024

In The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (available as an ebook), Cavanagh (2016) presents the relationship between emotions and learning, and provides guidance on applying affective science in the classroom. 

Drawing on Cavanagh (2016), here are two tips to add “spark” to your teaching practice:

1. Practice self-care

“The first thing you can do to maximize your daily effectiveness in the classroom is very straightforward and will have wonderful downstream effects on your health, productivity, and relationships—namely, take care of yourself.” (Cavanagh, 2016: 65)

Take time to rest and rejuvenate. Access well-being resources available at Columbia. When you are energized, you are able to energize your classroom.

2. Find your sparks

“All of our fields have unexpected discoveries or controversies or surprising relevance for daily life; find them, and build them into your courses.” (Cavanagh, 2016: 119) 

What sparks your curiosity and wonder? Find something in your discipline to spark your students’ curiosity and engage their emotions. Bring these into your classroom. Connect course topics to real-world relevance and applications; bring in examples, lived experiences, and brainstorm ways to involve your students in discovering these surprising elements themselves through engaging activities and assignments.

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