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From Love Story to Engagement: Capturing the heart of learning

Do you remember the first time you felt love?

Something lit up inside and you were forever smitten!

It can come at unexpected times.

It can come in unexpected places

But it does something to you on the inside

And many times we will do anything to recapture that feeling

What if learning could have it's own love story?

No longer all theory and repetition, but actual feeling, desire and even engagement.

Don't go anywhere, today I'm going to be sharing with you a real-life love story

From Love Story to Engagement: Capturing the heart of learning this is a very special episode looking closely at the concepts of love, feeling and engagement and how we can bring all three together to capture the very heart of learning! And make sure you stay right to the end because we have a very exciting surprise for you all!

But first, I promised you a love story!

People talk about failure in love, I talk about persistence.

Not giving up.

Always finding a way.

I like nice things. I like to eat good food.

I always have.

However life is often such we may think we cannot afford such indulgence and must satisfy ourselves with the mediocre, or if we do we must go into mountains of debt.

I disagree with both avenues.

I remember years ago, living in a tiny apartment in Paris, for a certain period money was very very scarce and we had cut our spending to absolute essentials.

Every week, I would cross Paris to go to fresh markets where I could get a maximum of fresh produce for a minimum of money.

And loving books, but not being able to afford them, I became a frequent face at the local library. It felt amazing to be able to choose books at will and walk out with at least twenty or even forty of them. All for free!

That is where I first discovered and started to love Japanese manga.

It's also where I first came across macarons.

Obviously, living in Paris for so long I had seen macarons, seen them everywhere, but I had always passed them off as dry, hard and overly sweet, three things I really really hate in cakes.

Really hate.

But on this day in question, I saw a recipe for them in a book on French pastry I had brought back from the library and thought I might make them for a dinner party we had organised that evening. Very nonchalent, off I went to the kitchen to make them. After all, how hard could they be.

Our friends came and ate and (politely) oohed and aahed at the macarons and we all laughed a lot and then a bit more.

For some reason though my curiosity was piqued. So the very next day I went into the city to buy some macarons. Not just any macarons, but the best the city had to offer. After all, if I was going to finally sink my teeth into a real macaron, I wanted it to be the very best.

First I went to Pierre Hermé and got a lemon macaron.

Then I went to Ladurée and got a lemon bergamot macaron.

Finally I went to Sadaharu Aoki patisserie and got a Matcha macaron.

I carefully carried home the three precious macarons like they were precious cargo. Then gently placed them on the table, unwrapped them, cut them each in two.

Looked at them, smelled them like they were a foreign species, took pictures of them from every angle, and then took a bite.

And that was the exact instant my whole world changed and I fell in love with Pierre Hermé.

I mean his macarons!

The flavour of that lemon macaron invading my mouth and my whole being was like something I had never experienced. The shiver going down my throat, that tingling through my body.

Everything came alive

You get it.

It was amazing.

But experiencing something like that is not enough for me.

I wanted more!

But not in the way you are thinking!

(Ok I'd better watch what I am saying haha)

Sure, I could go out and buy some PH macarons every time I want that level and intensity of flavour, but that would be boring. That would be defeat.

It would also have been pretty well expensive!

No, I had to learn how to recreate those exquisite flavours and that unique feeling myself.

I wanted to be the person to give people that level of delight through food.

So I went to the shop and bought some more almonds, more icing sugar, more eggs, and some lemons.

And I started making macarons. Batch after batch after batch. I took pictures of them and the freezer started to fill up.

Very quickly I actually did capture that lemon flavour, but it would be years before I finally 'mastered' both the texture and the flavour of that sought-after ganache filling.

The macaron shells: well, if I was to show you the pictures (actually, check on my website as I have also posted this episode in article form under the same title, pictures included!) woohoo, so if you go there and take a peek, you can see from the pictures (shown in order from newest to oldest), that I quickly made progress, never again resembling that first attempt I more fondly look back on as more like dinosaur doodoos.

Haha Well...

I mean there wasn't much other way than up after discovering my first attempt was such a radical mishap.

And while yes, there was significant and fast progress, each time I made them something was not quite right: Too many air bubbles, too flat, too puffy, too uneven, no foot.

I kept practising and learning and not quite succeeding.

I learnt so so much, but I just never seemed to get it right.

And I couldn't figure out why.

Finally my ideas ran dry.

And I hung up my spatulas and I stopped experimenting.

And for several months I didn't even touch another macaron.

(This is where we need some sad lovelorn music haha)

And then one fine day (always on a day when the sun is shining) several months later, as a rare token bonus from work, rare as in possibly the only bonus I received in my whole time at the company! I received a voucher to spend on "an experience".

You know those vouchers you can exchange for a massage or something similar.

And casually flicking through the brochure of "experiences", I noticed a class for ... you got it ... macarons.

Can you imagine!

I signed up almost immediately.

The colours and flavours they were "teaching" us, were pretty forgettable, but it was the techniques I was after.

Maybe now I could get some answer as to why I kept failing.

I followed everything in class in minute detail, noting down each and every step. Watching the teacher's every move intently! I also asked questions left right and center, and finally I cracked it. I got my answer. I actually got my answer.

And seriously, that's when I really learnt how important it is to pay attention to detail. Every single detail.

Even the tiniest most minute of details.

It was one tiny detail which changed everything.

I went straight home and got baking again, obviously stopping on the way to pick up more supplies!

And you know what?

The macarons came out perfectly!

Absolutely perfectly!

And I couldn't stop running around I was so excited.

It was like being reunited with your love!

I was smiling, I was laughing, I was dancing.

Did I let on to you how happy I was?

And it never stopped.

In fact, even now, every time I make macarons I feel that same rush of excitement.

That same feeling of love.

Repeated and magnified with each new flavour I create, with each time I teach a student the same process and their macarons also turn out perfectly.

Watching as people now bite into my macarons and seeing what we call in French that frisson or shiver of excitement go through their body too is truly something very very special.

That sensation of love and feeling and engagement, truly is very very special.

And contrary to what many would expect, it can and should be part of learning.

Learning which awakens the emotions and makes one feel alive.

Learning that takes us out of robot mode, that wakes us up and makes us excited for what is coming next, and even has us wanting to keep learning even outside of class.

This is what we call real engagement in learning, but to do that we need to wake up our inner desire to learn, not just on a theoretical level, but also on an emotional level.

Whether you are learners or educators you are probably staring at me wondering how that is even possible, but believe me, it truly is, and to you I am going to share those secrets.

I'm extremely excited to share with some extremely exciting news.

Lots of excitement today, haha

I'm very proud to share with you my brand new online course:

The secret to optimizing student engagement in 10 easy classes - a close-up look at the psychology of how we learn as adults

Learner engagement is not just one part great lesson planning, it is also five parts great psychology and this is the course which is going to reveal to you just that.

You will find it directly on my website under 'Courses'.

It is a course in ten parts, each looking at a different aspect of engagement, from the psychology and body language of first impressions to keeping engagement alive to even reengaging with disengagement and the psychology of pressure in learning.

Other titles to look out for include:

Discover you can: going back to the roots of what makes every single person want to learn!

Where learning engagement walks out the classroom door and keeps going: the secret to getting your learners to actually do homework!

The battle of the curriculum: how to transform something you have to teach into something your students want to learn

While the course was initially written with educators in mind, it was also entirely inspired with learners in mind, so while it is a resource we as educators will wish we already had years ago (make sure you share to any of your educator friends) it is also a valuable resource to those of us who are also learners, because nearly all the techniques can be replicated and you can experience the immediate benefit in your own learning journeys.

And for those interested in psychology, this will give you a fascinating insight into the psychology of how we as adults learn.

Head over right now to the course page on my website, and check it out.

People spend thousands of dollars and even higher amounts on online education courses and advice and still they do not receive a fraction of the value and insights I am offering you.

As I said at the outset, I don't believe that just because things are expensive they should be inaccessible or a reason to go into immense debt for.

And this is why, at a very very affordable price, not only am I giving you access to valuable insights to successfully engaging learners, (many of these insights can also work directly with engaging potential clients and audiences), I am also giving many techniques and tools to immediately get out and start creating engagement!

And you know what is truly incredible?

None of the macarons were made with complicated or highly expensive ingredients. Often it is in the combination of the simplest and most basic of ingredients that you can create such life changing sensations.

So while no I won't be giving away my macaron recipe here, those principals behind it I will be sharing with you.

Because this is where we need to rethink how we learn and how we engage our students.

It is not in the most expensive combinations where we automatically find success, but in the minute details and simplest of techniques where we hit the jackpot. Incredible results for at times the tiniest of changes, yet all things many of us are currently overlooking and missing out on.

The Secret to Optimizing Learner Engagement in 10 easy classes - a close-up look at the psychology of how adults learn has specifically been designed with your busy lifestyles in mind.

Sure, a course in video format may be more bright and sparkly and fun to watch, but how many of us actually have time to sit down and watch a video from beginning to end? No, this is learning designed for people on the go. By using audio format, you can listen whenever and wherever you want. And in addition, because it is fully downloadable, you can even listen to it when internet is slow or you have run out of data.

Win win

Because that way you still get great content but at a fraction of the cost!

You will learn about everything from creating engagement to growing engagement to maintaining it and even reigniting it!

It will give you the tools and the insights to connect more directly with your learners and quickly gauge what their needs and difficulties are to better engage them and better navigate their learning.

These techniques have been tried and tested repeatedly over the past twenty years both in groups and with individual learners. Initially developed with the adult language learner in mind, the principals apply across any learning context with any level of learner; because the way we as humans learn tends to remain pretty consistent whatever the subject we may be learning.

And what will amaze you the most, is how sometimes it will be the smallest of techniques, the tiniest of suggestions that will jump out to you in some of the modules, and they will be the ones which make the greatest impact in your classroom.

So head over to and get your copy now!

And one more surprise for you all!

I told you today was exciting!

Head over to my Facebook page @RuthZannis because we have a giveaway about to happen!!!


Don't miss out!

Straight after you've been to the course page!


Now who would like a macaron? haha Let me go and check flavours...

The Secret to Optimizing Learner Engagement in 10 easy classes - a close-up look at the psychology of how adults learn

Module 1

It all starts with a first impression: the secret to creating a great first impression with one-on-one students

Module 2

First impressions and getting off to the right start with your groups

Module 3

The need for a need: exploring the psychology of need in learner engagement

Module 4

The battle of the curriculum: how to transform something you have to teach into something your students want to learn

Module 5

Keeping engagement alive: navigating the phenomena of saturation in learning

Module 6

Where learning engagement walks out the classroom door and keeps going: the secret to getting your learners to actually do homework

Module 7

Engage your students at every level: how to get your language students talking (to the point they won't shut up!)

Module 8

Reengaging with disengagement and the psychology of pressure in learning

Module 9

Reinventing the concept of difficulty in learning to build learner confidence and increase engagement

Module 10

Discover you can: going back to the roots of what makes every single person want to learn!


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