‘Playing it safe’ or ‘throwing caution to the wind’: Risk-taking and emotions in a mathematics classroom
Keywords:teachers, classroom, emotions, affect, intellectual risk-taking
This paper attends to teacher intellectual risk-taking when attached to expression of positive emotions, in order to explore some of the reasons why teacher risk-taking may not appear in mathematics lessons. We know that risk-taking can be beneficial, but research has not really examined what form this might take in a classroom. In recent research, I investigated how positive emotions are discussed and used by experienced mathematics teachers. In particular how to examine the ‘in-the-moment’ emotions of the teacher, and what the modelling of experienced teachers tells us about the role of affect in mathematics teaching. This paper examines some affect episodes for elements of teacher risk-taking. The evidence suggests that teacher risk-taking enables the use of emotions, and vice versa, is integral to ‘good’ teaching, and that, in Bandura’s Social Learning Theory terms, modelling such behaviours appears beneficial to student learning and should be encouraged.