Emotions are a part of teen years and study-related situations are no exception.
From elation and celebration, to frustration and disappointment all of these present opportunities for learning and growth.
You’re listening to the Parents of Hardworking Teen Podcast, episode 14 - and today we’re going to look at how your teen’s most emotional moments in their academic life - both the positive and the negative - can be valuable opportunities for them to learn, build on the experience and continue moving forwards, so stay tuned.
Hi VIP’s, how are you? I’m doing great, though I have to admit, that I’m even surprising myself here a little by talking about emotions. I’m not the most touchy-feely person in general, though I have to say that as I get older, I do seem to get more emotional about things. Do you find that? Maybe it’s just me, but anyway, this is not about me! This is about your teen and how those emotional moments for them are amazing opportunities to learn, or build on things or move them forwards. And this really aligns nicely with the last episode, number 13. You don’t have to listen to them together, but if this is something that you’re interested in, then I would definitely recommend listening to that episode as well.
And the thing I want to focus on today is how the things that stick with us, that we retain in our memory long term or with real clarity, are the things or the moments that are associated with a strong emotion.
For example, we can likely remember where we were on 9/11, but we probably have no idea what we did on september the 10th.
Or maybe you have a really strong memory of something amazing or something terrible that happened to you. Because these were all moments where you had strong emotions.
Now, I know this isn’t anything new that I’m telling you here, and although I did go and look up some articles on this for my own interest in preparation for this episode, I’m not going to go into the scientific theory of why this happens. But I will link up a couple of interesting reads for you in the show notes though if you do want to check that out.
Instead I want to talk about this because we can capitalise on these moments for your teen. We can use the situations where emotions are running high to make positive changes for the future.
I know that one of the topics that many of my students used to remember best was the Kobe earthquake case study when I taught natural hazards and specifically how that event affected different people in different places. That’s because I used to teach it as a mystery. As in the activity was they had to solve the mystery, and through doing that, they learned all the facts and info and connections. Now, I didn’t come up with the mystery, it was a resource that was developed by an educator David Leat, but it worked so well that I did actually make up a couple of my own for other topics after. But this one particularly seems to stick I think because of the emotional element to it. The students worked in pairs and had all these cards with clues on them, telling them about the geographical details of the earthquake, telling them about different characters - and who was where and why. And the title was - what happened to mr and mrs Maichin? Basically, the answer was that Mrs Maichin was killed in the earthquake, because she was still asleep in their home in the old part of the city without earthquake proof buildings, and Mr Maichin survived because he was staying with their son who was a lawyer and lived in a newer building more modern building and so was earthquake proof.
And for weeks, months - some students would even recount this story to me years later - they could still tell me what the earthquake measured on the Richter scale, that all buildings after 1981 were made to be earthquake proof because that was where Mr Maichin was, they could even name the prefecture, they could tell me where Mrs Maichin worked and that she was on a later shift that day, hence why she was still asleep - AND so they also could remember the exact time of the earthquake too. They could remember all these facts that would’ve been SO hard to remember if they had just been listed out on a fact sheet. Size of earthquake, date and time, types of people and areas worst affected.
Now, this was partly because there was a storyline attached to the facts, which is a well-documented memory technique, but like I said, I used a couple of other mystery activities in other teaching topics too with other year groups and the stickability of this one was because the story evoked emotions in them. There was suspense as they gradually pieced together what happened, sadness at Mrs Maichin’s death and for the sorrow her husband and son would’ve felt. There were also some feelings of unjustness, at how the more affluent areas were less impacted and those people already perhaps struggling more in life were hit harder by the quake. If I’d just told it as a story of what happened, this size earthquake hit on this day, here’s which buildings and roads collapsed and which didn’t, I’m sure that the stickability would have been lower than with those people included and the emotion that element added to the case study. And just to be clear, there was no way that I wanted them writing about Mr and Mrs Maichin in their exam, but I did want them to be able to recall facts about the earthquake and the impacts and analyse how those varied for different people, in different places and the extent of the short and long term impacts - and this was a vehicle to do that.
And of course, I loved teaching this, and it brought me those feelings of joy and satisfaction and pride in my teaching. Which of course, is why I remember it too! It’s not just sad or negative emotions where this happens. It’s positive ones too.
Just like the lesson I told you about last week, where I had the student slam her hands on the desk and declare ‘Miss, this is gold.’
I’ve taught thousands of lessons, but I obviously only recall specific details or vividly remember a small percentage of them.
But yes, of course, the same is true for those lessons that didn’t go so well.
Like my first ever lesson in my first ever teaching job where I’d planned all this great stuff and the projector in the classroom wouldn’t work. The feeling or emotion there was definitely panic. But luckily only for a short time, because, being the diligent teacher I am, I had a back up.
And of course, that stuck with me; have a back up plan. Especially when it comes to technology. And having an online business, I can tell you that the need for a back up plan has definitely stuck with me.
Because I know what that feeling of panic is like. And I also know the feeling of relief and confidence when I could go to Plan B.
And it’s the same for your teen. What can they take from any of their emotionally charged moments?
Whether those are positive or negative.
For example, I have quite a few parents tell me that their teen procrastinates and then things get to the last minute and everything turns into this big stress fest, sometimes with tears or teen tantrums added in. Now, even though it’s not fun in the moment, there IS an opportunity here for learning and growth.
It’s likely not going to be possible in the moment - I don’t think any of us, when we’re in a bit of a meltdown mode is going to respond super calmly and positively to someone telling us that there’s something we can take away from this when we’re right in the middle of the drama - but maybe the next day, there could be a conversation, about what they were feeling, why that was and what led to this. Really connecting everything to the feelings they felt and likely would like to avoid feeling again in future.
And side note, if procrastination is a thing for your teen, go back and listen to episode number 2, for the 3 root causes of why your teen procrastinates,
Another unwanted situation might be that they got a disappointing result in an exam or assignment and maybe they’re feeling upset, disappointed, confused, annoyed, frustrated or unconfident.
And even though it can be tempting to try to move on as quickly as possible, building a learning moment in for them HERE will be more effective than doing so weeks down the line before their next assessment. Because it will be tied to the acute emotion they’re feeling so they’ll more likely retain that learning and therefore act on it.
And like I said, the same goes for positive emotions as well.
The elation, or relief or happiness with a great result can be tied to what they did (or didn’t do - like not having their phone with them while studying, not multi-tasking, or whatever it might be) that produced that result.
The pride and delight after a parents evening meeting can be linked to the habits or actions they need to keep taking, or stop doing, or ones that they want to build upon.
These emotional moments are opportunities. Opportunities to not just lock in a memory or information, but also lock in the feelings that drive an action that will create a result they do want, or to stop doing something that will help them avoid creating a result they don’t.
So, look out for these opportunities, make the most of them and if you have a question about anything to do with memorising information, building positive skills or habits, or a question about your teen’s results and or experiences in their study then email them in to support @ rocksolidstudy.com because I’m going to answer them here on the podcast. Once a month, for the next 3 months, I’m going to do a Q&A episode, dedicated to answering your questions. Or your teen’s questions. So either of you have something you really want to pick my brain on, or just something small or general you’ve been wondering, send it in. I can’t wait to read them all and either I’ll respond here on the podcast, or, if I don’t pick your question for the podcast, I’ll reply with an answer personally. So either way, you’ll get a response from me.
Okay, have a brilliant rest of your day and I’ll meet you back here next week.