As is the way of the world of teaching, the same lesson plan turns out quite differently when used with the next group of students. After the first trial of my newly designed introduction to a Thinking Environment lesson, the second group reacted in similar and different ways.
The differences started with me. A different day, a different mood, a different mindset. Thank goodness I continually remind myself of EASE. Deep breath, slowdown, lighten up. I know what I want to get across, my students don't have a clue of what's coming. Which I can use to my advantage. They don't know when I forget something; as long as in that moment they don't pick up on my stress (or self-annoyance or frustration or brain-freeze), they can feel secure in an environment of ease.
I like to keep in mind how Ease is defined on the 10 components list: offering freedom from internal rush or urgency.
FREEDOM FROM INTERNAL RUSH OR URGENCY.
If I am calm (or at least look calm), I instill confidence in my learners. There is less to distract their brains from the learning task at hand. If the opposite of a calm environment is a threatening one, consider this dire example from David Rock:
"The threat response is both mentally taxing and deadly to the productivity of a person — or of an organization. Because this response uses up oxygen and glucose from the blood, they are diverted from other parts of the brain,
including the working memory function, which processes new information and ideas. This impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving; in other words, just when people most need their sophisticated mental capabilities, the brain’s internal resources are taken away from them."
I want to say I saw no evidence of this happening in class. However, while the students relished the chance of being listened to without interruption during Rounds, they also admitted to nerves distracting them during the build up to it being their turn to speak. How far did this adrenaline rush lead to a "threat response"? How much did it reduce their generative attention? What needs to happen in order for Ease to maintained? Or is it helpful to have some adrenaline to hand, aiding focus on good language production?
These are all questions worthy of further exploration. Which is what I shall do. With as much ease as I can muster, I shall monitor and collect information during Thinking Environment classes. Watch this space to see what develops!