Teachers often approach teaching with an energy and enthusiasm to inspire their students with their skills and knowledge. However, when faced with students who are not fully engaged in their learning, teachers sometimes find it difficult and frustrating to communicate the subject knowledge. This paper looks at the importance of teachers reflecting regularly on their teaching with thoughts not just about the communication of subject knowledge, but combining this with the emotions and affective experiences of themselves and their students. We interviewed 11 new secondary science teachers about their first 3 years of teaching and in particular, questions were directed at their relationships in school, communication with students, the ideal lesson and reflection. Our findings revealed that teachers who were most successful when faced with adversities in the classroom, were those who appreciated that, as well as communicating subject knowledge, there is also a need for affective communication with the student. Many of the teachers we spoke to emphasised the importance of establishing a rapport with their students, and especially when they were disengaged and disinterested in learning. The data highlight the importance of conceptualising teaching and learning as encompassing both affect and cognition in order to have a balanced and healthy view of teaching, learning, the student and the school.
There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul. Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)