How do you develop emotional intelligence as an educator?
Developing emotional intelligence in educators is necessary for grooming students and creating a school culture of trust and respect. It is already a fact that a school’s culture and environment can naturally increase engagement, productivity and accelerate students’ learning process.
Quality school leadership and positive school culture are vital. One is not more important than the other, nor can either exist independent of each other. There is even an urgent need for principals and school heads to be instructional leaders, managers, data gurus, and other duties.
However, the educational sector has been slow to recognize the importance of emotional intelligence in teaching and learning. Michael Fullan, one of the leading authorities on educational leadership, also asserts that the future of school administration in the 21st century appears to be tied more closely to maintaining successful and harmonious relationships.
Well, the future is not far-fetched anymore; it is now! We cannot continue to ignore the importance of emotional intelligence for school leaders and the impact that leadership has on school culture. In our previous article, we already explained what emotional intelligence entails and its importance. Here, we will briefly discuss tips to help teachers to develop emotional intelligence and competence.
This is the first strategy to develop emotional intelligence. As an educator, you must know yourself; your temperament, what triggers you, what excites you, your tolerance level, and more. We all have things that test our patience. It is only human. When an educator is aware of those triggers, he/she is better prepared to control their emotions and behaviors. We advise school teachers to be ready to “respond” to events and not “react” to them.
A success formula inspired by the work of Jack Canfield (E + R = 0) is also a proven strategy that can be applied to your life and career. The E stands for Event, the R for Response, and the O equals outcome. So, Event + Response = Outcome. We can never control or determine the events in our life. But the outcomes depend on our responses to these events.
Some reactions can be disciplined and thoughtful, which could lead to positive outcomes. Other reactions can be impulsive and irrational, which may lead to poor outcomes. One of the ways to command authority from students is by knowing how to relate with them. And that is only possible when you have understood yourself to avoid being tossed around by emotions.
Show and communicate empathy
Empathy is one of the most important dispositions of successful leaders – be it educators or any other profession. The ability to demonstrate and communicate empathy is a skill. Since you are dealing with human beings, knowing how to display empathy—via your mannerism, gestures, voice tone, and words—will help you become relative and know how to handle people’s emotions.
Draw a thin line between opinions and feelings
To develop emotional intelligence, you must learn to differentiate between opinions and feelings as an educator. Ask students or even your colleagues about how they feel about an issue. Their answers may likely spring from a place of ‘feelings’. You could as well rephrase the question and seek their opinions. Your ability to differentiate between opinions and feelings and empathetically address each person’s concerns can help you develop emotional intelligence and competence.
Learn to separate logic from emotions
People are not creatures of logic but creatures of emotion. Imagine that you get an unexpected message from a parent or a school board member requesting that you call them back immediately. The emotional part of the brain responds quickly, “What’s wrong? Did I not handle something properly? What problem am I going to be asked to take care of?” and that is natural.
Our emotional response should protect us, but it can also challenge our ability to stay under control in stressful situations. This goes back to E + R = O. Get control of your emotions and take some time to think logically about the situation and your response. This pause, coupled with an appropriate response, will help reduce the potentially negative consequences of acting on emotion. And that, in turn, increases your emotional intelligence.
Create a balance between your personal life and school work
Learn to be emphatically assertive. It is unhealthy to bring your issues into the school environment. That could tarnish your image and also affect students’ learning process. Some educators think they have high EI because they are sensitive and have feelings. But that is not the case. Emotional intelligence means being in touch with the feelings of others.
This does not mean that you should neglect your well-being; it means you should consider others before reacting, as the world is not an island.
Emotional intelligence is a critical skill for educators to build trust and create a culture where teaching and learning thrive. And for teachers to navigate the complex environment of education today, they need feedback and support. This support will help them know how to handle the emotions of others as well as their own.