Emotional intelligence is a popular construct associated with business, education, health and more recently sport. There is clear evidence to substantiate that emotional intelligence is beneficial for performance.
Check out a video that GetPsyched did a number of months ago on emotional intelligence here:
A number of characteristics associated with emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and relationship management. The purpose of this article demonstrates how emotional intelligence can be useful for teaching practices.
The concept of self-awareness alludes to being aware of the situation around you and thinking beyond. Thinking beyond could also be termed ‘thinking outside the box.’
Teachers who wish to enhance their performance levels must be self-aware. Self-awareness alludes to the emotion of oneself. Teachers should be in control of their emotions and demonstrate a great deal of awareness of their students. This can be developed through self-analysis of performance by identifying strengths and limitations.
There is a range of possibilities for teachers to develop their self-awareness further. For example, during feedback sessions, teachers should be aware of the emotions they are portraying to their students. Further, teachers should be self-aware during lessons of their own performance levels and the impact this is having on the student body.
- Identify – practices that enable you to become self-aware of your emotions (both positive and negative) as you experience these during teaching and learning
- Develop – routines that allow you to enhance your own self-awareness when dealing with students.
- Enhance – awareness through utilising useful strategies that identify your own needs.
The ability to self-regulate is useful for successful teachers. Self-regulation is the ability to maintain control during pressurised situations. These situations normally arise during behavioural situations in the classroom. Effective self-regulation promotes balance between body and mind.
One useful strategy to help develop effective self-regulation is through the practice of reflection. There are many occasions that require teachers to regulate their emotions. Examples include marking work, preparing for lessons and the actual teaching and learning. Therefore, implementing strategies will enable teachers to evolve within professional practices.
- Identify – positive and negative emotions during your teaching sessions. Compare and contrast the two emotions and list how you felt. Each time you feel negative, attempt to remember the positive times as this will help re-energise your thinking and mindset.
- Develop – strategies that provide opportunities to regulate your emotions through self-reflection. Find a quiet corner and examine yourself (e.g. what could I have done better? How will I develop a teaching strategy differently next time? Did I deal with students and provide sufficient answers?
- Enhance – the ability to increase self-regulatory practices when you notice your emotions as you experience them or understand your physical feelings as you feel the emotion coming on.
Motivation is considered to be a major characteristic of good teaching. Motivation is an inner desire to achieve objectives that are set out, for example when carrying out teaching sessions.
Maintaining motivation as a teacher and of your students is instrumental. Therefore, introduce action plans for all your students. These actions should be set out as specific short-term targets throughout the academic year.
- Identify – targets early in the academic year and generate these targets into short-term specific outcomes. Utilise actions for each student to enable their own motivation levels to be maintained and enhanced.
- Develop – strategies that provide opportunities for students to modify their targets.
- Enhance – opportunities that increase motivation levels when self-confidence is low.
Teachers high in emotional intelligence will understand their own students and his/her own self. Building empathy is crucial as understanding the needs of students and making each individual feel part of the set-up is important. Team cohesion is most effective when students all agree on the aims and objectives set out by the teacher.
- Identify – each student and understand what makes them the way they are through appraisal and identifying individual needs.
- Develop –discussions with performers on a regular basis.
- Enhance – strategies that will increase empathy. For example, introduce different scenario’s to students so they can problem solve these in smaller groups.
Relationship management is crucial for a teacher. Introduce relationship management with the use of various group bonding exercises. A teacher can support their team and foster effective group dynamics through relationship management.
- Identify – opportunities to increase harmony amongst students during the academic year.
- Develop – situations that help enhance group dynamics. Introduce activities that promote effective relationships between students.
- Enhance – relationship management during each lesson and give responsibilities to different students.
Taken together, emotional intelligence is a useful concept. The benefits of emotional intelligence are evidenced in other domains and hold exceptional opportunities for teachers to utilise within their own practice.
Each characteristic of emotional intelligence is flexible and therefore can be used interchangeably.