Think of the best and worst teachers you’ve ever had. How did they make you feel? The impact of how you remember feeling about them all comes from the abundance or lack of emotional intelligence in these teachers.
Daniel Goleman wrote a phenomenal book published in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than I.Q. where the term emotional intelligence started to gain notoriety. It’s been remodeled by different organizations ever since.
In the universe of emotional intelligence, there are 600,000 named emotions according to Alan Watkins TEDx Talk “Why We Feel What We Feel”. That also means that if you mislabel an emotion that either you or another person is feeling, it could lead to the wrong course of action.
According to Genos International – Australia where I gained two certifications—first as a practitioner then as a trainer—emotional intelligence is “is a set of skills that help us better perceive, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and in others.” My personal definition of it is the way we understand and manage our own emotions and the way we understand other people’s emotions and influence them.
There are six competencies in the Genos International model of emotional intelligence:
2. Awareness of others
4. Emotional reasoning
6. Positive influence
Here’s a simple illustration of how emotional intelligence affects student learning. Imagine a teacher who’s not aware of her strengths and weaknesses (self-awareness). If a teacher isn’t really good at teaching the 12 verb tenses but pretends to know them and teaches a group of students, imagine the frustration of the students as they struggle to fully understand the concepts. If this teacher is not aware of her impact on students, she may not make an effort to change (awareness of others). Until this teacher becomes self-aware, she won’t exert any effort to really study the 12 verb tenses before she teaches it to students (authenticity).
Authenticity through the lens of emotional intelligence means walking the talk rooted in valuing empathy. When this teacher finally realizes the negative impact of her pretentious teaching on students, she finally decides to change (emotional reasoning).
Emotional reasoning is about the information you get from feelings (from oneself and others) and combining it with other facts and information when decision making. Having made this realization, this teacher then makes an extra effort to study and understand the 12 verb tenses and creatively prepares her lesson plan the next day (self-management). Because of this, her students now fully understand the concepts and are able to apply the lesson in their classroom discussions (positive influence).
As teachers, we’re exposed to the many different manifestations of multiple intelligences combined with varying expressions of emotions at school (including online) as we teach our students. This in itself is challenging enough as we’re called to wear different hats while dealing with different personalities.
In closing, let me tell you about one of the best teachers I had in my life. She happened to be my fourth-year high school English teacher.
If I were to answer my opening question of how this teacher made me feel, she made me feel seen, heard, and valued. She helped me develop a healthy sense of well-being even beyond the four walls of our classroom. Even before our graduation, I’d been sharing with her our family’s financial struggles because she was that open and caring to her students.
She knew that I had no clue whether I’d be able to study in college. What she did was above and beyond her call of duty. She contacted a philanthropist friend and partially helped me finance my associate degree which enabled me to work and be a breadwinner for my family for 17 years before I pursued a bachelor’s degree.
I graduated at the age of 39 and am now pursuing my master’s degree in education due to her efforts and example. When Mrs. Carmencita Bilolo turned 70 in 2018, I was honored to host her simple birthday celebration. In 2019, she passed away, and her funeral wake was flooded by so many former students, fellow teachers, and church volunteers whose lives she had touched. “Ma’am Chit,” as we fondly call her, had lived the life of an emotionally intelligent teacher. Her legacy lives on in my life and in the lives of others whom she lovingly and wonderfully influenced .
I’m excited for you as you take on the journey of developing your emotional intelligence as a teacher.