Arlene's Weekly Breadcrumbs


According to Hu et al (2016),  a student’s motivation to learn has a significant effect on whether or not learning actually takes place.  Student motivation is one of the key determinants of academic performance and creativity and therefore it is increasingly popular  for schools to implement strategies that will cultivate student motivation for learning. The fact is that students who are not motivated will not learn. They will not retain information, participate and some may even become disruptive. (2018) explains that “A student may be unmotivated for a variety of reasons: They may feel that they have no interest in the subject, find the teacher’s methods un-engaging or be distracted by external forces. It may even come to light that a student who appeared unmotivated actually has difficulty learning and is in need of special attention.” A student’s social emotional needs can also impact his or her motivation.  

As a new teacher I have spent  a lot of time planning lessons.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the content that I want my students to learn, the skills sets that they have and the best way to either utilize the skills they have or develop new skill sets to enable them to maneuver the content.  I try to get the students motivated and engaged by making the lesson as fun and relatable as I can but I spend far less time thinking about the social emotional needs of my students, even though I am very much aware of the fact that it plays a major role in my classroom, and can in fact determine the effectiveness of my lessons.  I have experienced several occasions where the tone or mood of a particular class just would not facilitate an effective lesson where as the same lesson worked well with other classes. On these occasions the social emotional needs of the students should outweigh the desire to push the content, but how do I do that.

I have received training in restorative circles which I think was wholly inadequate in that we did not complete the required hours of training and at the end were just given the curriculum and told to follow the lesson sequence but the lessons don’t always flow with the students and I find myself deviating from them.  It may be the novice in me speaking but don’t think that the students have the emotional skills to handle the curriculum. I recently watched a video clip entitled the “ 5 Keys to Successful Social Emotional Learning “. The 5 Keys identified are self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.  My students struggle with all of the five keys to successful social emotional learning discussed in the video clip. Many lack the basic skill of empathy or the ability to work cooperatively with others.

The video clip describes the five keys in the following way

1. Self awareness - the ability to identify your emotions.  The ability to tie thoughts and feeling to behavior and to understand how your words and deeds impact others.

2. Self management - the ability to regulate your emotions and have self control

3. Social Awareness - to have empathy for others

4. Relationship Skills - the ability to work cooperatively with others

5. Responsible Decision Making - Having a sense of well being and being mindful of the well being of others.  Having the ability to evaluate the consequences of your behavior or actions and understanding how it impacts others.  

According to the clip when social emotional learning is embedded in a schools curriculum the results are a reduction in student aggression and emotional distress, increase in helping behavior, Improvement in positive attitude towards self and others as well as increased academic performance by a measure of 11 points on average.  These are all desirable outcomes that I think every educator hopes to achieve but cannot achieve without school support. These kinds of outcomes can only be achieved if the school's culture is based on it and the administration supports it by providing the necessary infrastructure.

Mark Tow’s article entitled “In High School, the kids are not Alright” gave me one manageable strategy that I will take away from this week's resources. I will remember to ask my students how they are doing and mean it.  It's not enough to just do the casual greeting at the door,there needs to be follow through by seeking opportunities for meaningful check-ins with students. We all have issues in life that we are dealing with. Teachers as well as students, but students have an added disadvantage in that they are still developing physically, emotionally and cognitively.  They need to know that someone cares.

Hu, W., Jia, X., Plucker, J. A., & Shan, X. (2016). Effects of a Critical Thinking Skills Program on the Learning Motivation of Primary School Students. Roeper Review, 38(2), 70-83. doi:10.1080/02783193.2016.1150374

Motivating Students retrieved on 4/2/2018 from

The 5 Keys to Successful Social and Emotional Learning:

Tow, David (2018) “In High School, the Kids Are Not All Right” retrieved on 4/3/18 from



ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

Here is our online home for ED 631 for Spring 2018.

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