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Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Classrooms: Role of teachers in building an emotionally intelligent generation

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June 6, 2018

Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Classrooms: Role of teachers in building an emotionally intelligent generation

‘Success is not about how many awards you receive or how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives’

Academic qualifications, technical competencies, and professional skills are no longer the only key skills for success now-a-days. In fact, the definition of success has become much broader than it was before. Success is not defined in terms of living a luxurious life but in terms of living a harmonious life. For living a harmonious life, certain psychological skills are essential.

The traditional education system was chiefly focused on education for a living. People used to prefer professions that gave access to jobs. But now-a-days, people have started choosing professions that give them joy, the focus is more on enjoying one’s profession, than on just making money and increasing the number of zeros in one’s bank balance. Definitely, people are changing; our lifestyles are changing, and we are facing different challenges and different conflicts in our routine life. Modern lifestyle demands tougher personalities, personalities having a strong psyche.

Educationists have the power to shape minds of upcoming generations; it is the responsibility of teachers and parents to train these minds for life, to give them education for life, and not merely education for a living.

Managing one’s emotions is the most important trait of a strong person. People who manage their emotions well are called emotionally intelligent people. As teachers/ educationists, it is important to promote emotional intelligence among our children. So what is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what others are telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. If you have high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, and engage with people in a way that draws you to them. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a fulfilling life. People with high EI (emotional intelligence) are usually successful in most things they do. Because they make others feel good, they go through life much more easily than people who are easily angered or upset.

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence:

1. Self-Awareness – People with high EI understand their emotions, and because of this, they don’t let their feelings rule them and don’t let their emotions get out of control.

2. Self-Regulation – This is the ability to control emotions and impulses. People with high EI usually don’t allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they don’t make impulsive, careless decisions. They think before they act. They are thoughtful, open to change, flexible and assertive.

3. Motivation – People with a high degree of EI are usually willing to put off immediate results for long-term success. They’re highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do.

4. Empathy – Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of those around you. People with empathy are good at recognizing the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. They avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way. People having high EI are also high on empathy.

5. Social Skills –Those with strong social skills help others develop and shine. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.

You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially incompetent and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ (Emotional Quotient) that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.

Improving your emotional intelligence:

Before a teacher works on promoting emotional intelligence among her/his students, it is important for a teacher to develop EI in herself/himself. Some simple tips are enlisted here to improve EI:

  • Evaluate yourself. Examine your assets and limitations. Accept that you’re not perfect and that you could work on some areas to make yourself a better person. Have the courage to look at yourself honestly. Check how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued in the business world and outside it.
  • Express yourself. Show gratitude to people who help you, appreciate people around you for the good work. But don’t go flattering people!! Convey your disappointments politely. If you hurt someone’s feelings apologize. People are usually more willing to forgive and forget if you make an honest attempt to make things right.
  • Be empathetic. Observe how you reach out to people, how your actions and reactions affect others. Try to put yourself in their place, and be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
  • Learn to be assertive. It is important that you know how to say NO without hurting others. No one in this universe can do everything. Know your limits and do not overburden yourself with too much workload and too many commitments.
  • Think rationally. Do not over generalize things; avoid ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’. It is okay to make mistakes, no one is born perfect and no one dies perfect. Everyone may not agree with your opinions, everyone has her/his own sets of opinions; each and every individual cannot like you. It is quite natural that you will be liked by some people and disliked by others; it does not necessarily mean you are not likable. Success and failure are temporary. People and situations change over time, it is natural.
  • Be altruistic. Help people in need. Be pro-social.
  • Have some purpose in life. When you are working towards your goal, it keeps you engaged and thus checks your involvement in unproductive things.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. No matter how miserable the circumstances of your life are, it won’t be permanent. We cannot change the situations, but we can change our attitude. If you cannot be optimistic, at least don’t get pessimistic. Stay neutral and keep doing your duties without any expectations.
  • Learn the art of unconditional love and acceptance. No matter how badly a person behaves, understand that every human being is innately good. We don’t need to judge people based on a few actions. There may be another side which we have never seen.
  • Socialize, make friends, give some time to your hobbies, and spend time with your family.

Promoting emotional intelligence in the classroom

According to Albert Bandura, children learn best by observing their elders. Thus as teachers, if we develop our EI, definitely by mere observation, they will learn to be more intelligent emotionally. Some tips for promoting EI in the classroom:

  • Show respect for each individual child’s feelings, and remember his negative feelings are indications of unmet emotional needs.
  • Do not label your students negatively. Avoid ‘shoulds’ and avoid subjective labels.
  • Instead of saying ‘students’ try to address them as ‘children’.
  • Help the children label their feelings properly. Teach them a wide range of feeling words. Talk about feelings, ask them how they feel, teach them how they can feel, show empathy, concern and care for your children. Ask them how they feel and ‘What would help you feel better’. Teach them to solve their own problems using empathy, compassion and mutual respect for each other’s feelings.
  • Support their individual needs, talents, potential and interests.
  • Reassure the students that it is okay to be honest about their feelings. Tell them that if they feel hateful, hurtful, vengeful, violent or destructive, it is okay to say it.
  • To lighten up the tension, set a goal of finding 3-30 things that everyone can agree on. Use humour.
  • Don’t lecture them as they are expressing themselves.
  • Let them express themselves without showing disapproval, shock, horror. Do not invalidate or judge anything they say. If you want them to open up, turn off your inner judge.
  • Don’t add to their pain, stress, discomfort and fear by trying to control their behavior through saying things like ‘Look me in the eyes when I am talking to you. Stop playing with your hair. Take your fingers out of your mouth. Sit up.’
  • While interacting with your students it is important to keep a check on your language.
    • Label your feelings rather than your students. Say ‘I am confused about why you aren’t doing your work,’ rather than ‘You are just being lazy.’
    • Express your emotions rather than issuing commands. For example – ‘I feel bad when I see you take things from others without asking. I am afraid you might lose their friendship.’
    • Learn to take responsibility for your own feelings rather than blame them on your students. For example say ‘I felt embarrassed when the principal was here,’ rather than ‘You embarrassed me in front of the principal.’
  • First validate the student’s feelings before addressing their behaviour. For example – ‘It looks like you are feeling a little restless today. It looks like you really don’t want to come inside.’

Loftus says, ‘If teachers make comments to kids that are personally challenging or insulting to them as a person, kids will never look at their own behaviour.’ The connected approach, on the other hand, gets positive results ‘hundreds of times’.

Aachal Taywade is a Psychologist by profession and is presently working as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Amity University Mumbai. She wishes to bring change in the field of mental health among common public not only by spreading awareness among people, but also by contributing quality work in the field.

She is working in the educational sector since the past few years in various schools and colleges as counsellor and as a teacher. She is a very lively, enthusiastic and dedicated person. As a teacher she believes in giving equal respect to every child in the class and allow each child with an opportunity to explore his/her full potential.

She has special interest in adolescent psychology. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in mobile usage patterns and its effects on adolescents. She has won a gold medal in Master of Arts in Psychology and has some national and international research publications to her credit.

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