What is Affective Teaching?

Cheerful black teacher with diverse schoolkids
Image credit: Katherina Holmes

Affective teaching focuses on the emotional aspects of learning and the centrality of student feelings, attitudes, and motivations. In this form of teaching, it is recognized that a good emotional climate can contribute much to the energy, attention, and interest of students; it also affects many of their reactions and ways of coping with demands and relating to people. It involves the integration of emotional intelligence into the classroom environment. It is necessary to mention that if educators are required to connect with the students, they first need to be in control of themselves and take good care of themselves emotionally.

A study found that self-care activities like mindfulness helped educators enhance their mental health and resulted in better teaching. The students in the study reported they had a better learning experience through affective teaching by mindful educators (Evans et al., 2013).

đź’ˇ Lessons learnt: Ask yourself this: Would I want to be a student in my own class?

Central Elements of Affective Teaching

Emotional Engagement: Affective teaching strategies focus on making the classroom a place where students feel emotionally supported and understood. This helps students connect better with the material and become more motivated. A long-term study on college students showed that feeling good mentally and believing in their abilities helps them do better in school. Feeling positive is linked to higher grades (Cobo-RendĂłn et al., 2020)

Reducing Anxiety: Affective teaching tends to minimize anxiety and stress, common impediments to effective learning. In an empirical study on the strategies of affective teaching in an English class, a reduction of language anxiety showed an increase in the capacity for learners to adequately participate meaningfully in acquiring new skills. It has been found that integrating affective strategies—such as classroom debates and mindfulness meditation—increases student engagement since it fosters active participation from students and, at the same time, reduces anxiety. These strategies are also crucial in developing critical thinking and motivation to learn.

Promoting Positive Relationships: Building strong, positive relationships between teachers and students is the foundation of effective teaching. This relationship makes the learning process a considerable collaborative and supportive experience. Positive emotional exchanges in class produce good academic performance due to a supportive environment presented by teachers and students. A meta-analysis indicated that positive relations between teachers and students are highly related to students' academic engagement and achievement (Roorda et al., 2011). Another study backed the fact that these relationships act as mediators that enhance student engagement, boosting academic performance (Roorda et al., 2017).

Practical ways to integrate principles of Affective Teaching in your classroom

Creating a Positive Emotional Climate

  • Morning Meetings: Start the day with a class meeting where students can share, discuss their expectations for the day, and build a sense of community.
  • Classroom Norms: Co-create classroom rules with students to ensure they feel ownership and responsibility for maintaining a positive environment.

Encouraging Emotional Intelligence

  • Role-Playing: Integrate role-playing scenarios into lessons where students can practice empathy by taking on different perspectives.
  • Mindfulness Practices: Implement short mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or guided meditation, to help students manage their emotions and reduce stress.

Integrating Socio-Affective Strategies

  • Cooperative Learning: Design group projects that require collaboration, such as science experiments or group presentations, where students must rely on each other to succeed.
  • Peer Mentoring: Set up a peer mentoring system where older or more experienced students support and guide their younger or less experienced peers.
  • Empathy Projects: Create projects that focus on understanding and helping others, such as community service or “pen pal” programs with students from different cultures or backgrounds.
  • Discussion Circles: Use discussion circles where students can share their thoughts about various topics in a respectful and supportive environment.

Utilizing Reflective Practices

  • Reflective Journals: Have students write weekly reflections on what they learned, how they felt during the lessons, and what they found challenging.
  • Teacher Reflection: Regularly set aside time to reflect on your teaching practices, perhaps using a journal or discussing with a colleague, to identify what works well and what might need adjustment.
  • Class Debriefs: After completing a major project or lesson, hold a debrief session where students can discuss what they learned and reflect on their emotional responses to the activity.


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  • Evans, N., Ziaian, T., Sawyer, J., & Gillham, D. (2013). Affective Learning in Higher Education. The Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 23, 23-41.
  • Jagger, S. (2013). Affective learning and the classroom debate. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 50, 38-50.
  • Robles, J. V. (2018). Current perspectives of teaching English through affective learning strategies. Global Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 8(4), 154-157.
  • Reyes, M., Brackett, M., Rivers, S., White, M., & Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom emotional climate, student engagement, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 700-712.
  • Roorda, D. L., Koomen, H., Spilt, J., & Oort, F. (2011). The Influence of Affective Teacher–Student Relationships on Students’ School Engagement and Achievement. Review of Educational Research, 81, 493-529.
  • Roorda, D. L., Jak, S., Zee, M., Oort, F., & Koomen, H. (2017). Affective Teacher–Student Relationships and Students' Engagement and Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Update and Test of the Mediating Role of Engagement. School Psychology Review, 46, 239-261.
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  • Sumang, D. U. W., Darmawan, D., & Maf’ulah, M. (2022). Analysis of the Use of Socio-Affective Strategy in Teaching Speaking English. e-Journal of ELTS (English Language Teaching Society).