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The Power of Enthusiasm in Fifth Grade

By: Fifth Grade Teacher Zack Mouw

November 16, 2020

While conducting a literature review on teacher enthusiasm during my graduate studies, I discovered that there are numerous positive effects on students when educators are enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about their content areas. The literature review consistently revealed greater amounts of intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy among students when high levels of teacher enthusiasm were present. 

Joining the fifth grade teaching team at Rossman this year has only increased my awareness of the positive effects that teacher enthusiasm can have on student outcomes. For Mr. Valdez, passion begins with teaching mathematics, as he has always loved discovering solutions to mathematical concepts. Furthermore, the challenge of meeting the needs of students with various math perspectives has always been intriguing to him. “Each student sees math from a unique perspective, which is often very different from my own. Finding ways to make our mathematical viewpoints meet requires me to understand ideas in multiple ways, which is one of the most powerful and exciting aspects of math,” the veteran educator explains. Mr. Valdez understands that not all students enjoy math, but believes that when students realize how interesting and surprising math can be, their perspectives can change. “Teaching math to kids who don’t want to be there is very difficult. But when you get their trust and you get their intrinsic motivation going, it is the most rewarding.”

Understanding that communicating clearly and coherently and having the ability to express oneself and connect with others is critical to succeeding in life, Ms. Menees strives to engage with her students through writing. “There is nothing better than getting to know my students through their written work or helping them get to know themselves and each other by providing them opportunities to write and share their writing! It is a joy to watch them develop their personalities, voice and confidence throughout the year,” she states. Ms. Menees’ passion for writing is palpable, and the enthusiasm she brings to each lesson is contagious. “I am never bored with what we are doing—the same prompt or project leads different students in a million different directions, and I think the kids can see how much of a kick I get out of all of their ideas and writer’s voice, which motivates them to want to write and share their work! I think they see my delight and come to trust that what they have to say is important.” 

My instructional enthusiasm can most often be seen when teaching reading comprehension, and the love for reading that Rossman students display makes my job easier and allows me to focus on teaching deeper comprehension skills and critical thinking. There is nothing more rewarding in education to me than having students express their own enthusiasm for reading class.

Whether it is math, writing, reading, or another subject, teacher enthusiasm is always on full display in fifth grade at Rossman. It is exceedingly exciting and invigorating to watch students develop intrinsic motivation and grow in their self-efficacy for academics!


Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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