The ever-increasing pressures to succeed academically can leave students unaware of the importance of their emotional intelligence in achieving success.
Daniel Goleman authored a book titled “Emotional Intelligence” and wrote that it is responsible for 67 percent of those abilities leaders need for superior performance and is twice as important as their IQ or technical experience. Our emotional intelligence, or EQ, is our ability to identify our emotions, as well as others’ emotions, and to learn to use those emotions to improve our communication skills, meet challenges, deal with conflict, and control our emotions in a positive way that leads to success.
Sherri Gordon in “8 Strategies for Increasing the Emotional Intelligence” writes that increasing emotional intelligence can prevent bullying. “Envy is often at the root of bullying, especially when it comes to relational aggression and mean girl behavior,” making emotional intelligence a more important part of our classrooms and schools now than ever before.
Emotional intelligence curriculum is even being introduced in some states following studies showing that some teens suffer serious stress, anxiety, and depression that can lead to violence, binge drinking, drug use, and other serious problems. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence reports: “We are studying the future workforce, and the outlook isn’t good.”
The following suggestions for teachers can help to improve the emotional intelligence of their students.
1. Teach Empathy
There may be no more important life lesson than putting yourself in another person’s place. Most parents in America have said that to their children time and time again. Teachers can guide students to embrace empathy as part of their emotional intelligence by using opportunities presented in lessons in history or sociology to ask what a person in that circumstance was feeling or thinking. Teachers must also show empathy in their relationships with others, including their students. Making it a rule in the classroom that everyone is expected to show respect for their classmates can help to develop empathy and good relationships among students.
2. Seek Opinions
Give students the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions. Students who are encouraged to come up with ideas for classroom activities not only want to learn, but they begin to feel more able to tackle projects on their own. They also learn to listen to their classmates and respect the opinions and ideas of others, which is an important part of emotional intelligence. Too often we listen to reply instead of listening to understand, so providing opportunities for students to share ideas and respond appropriately can help them become better listeners and life-long learners.
3. Develop Problem Solving
It takes some extra time, but teachers who encourage their students to come up with ideas for problem solving are in fact helping those kids to develop emotional intelligence. Good ideas for solving problems at school, both within and outside the classroom, can come from our students. Working together can teach kids to communicate clearly and also to learn about why others act or feel the way they do. Introducing vocabulary words to describe emotions and feelings can help students to learn how complex emotions can be.
4. Build Character
Seek out historical figures or fictional characters in reading assignments who display good character. A discussion of the assignment can lead to students’ understanding of how responsibility and ethics are developed. The importance of trust, honesty, and responsibility shown by these characters can be stepping stones to a discussion on how these values allow students to become dependable and successful adults with high emotional intelligence.
5. Use Humor
Don’t be afraid to incorporate laughter in your classroom. There is no greater stress reliever than humor. Playing a game, telling a joke, or laughing with your students can be the perfect model for empathy. Studies show that play can calm nerves and put things back into perspective when a problem has grown out of proportion. Suddenly, conflict is gone and stress is relieved. Just ensure that your humor is never at the expense of one of your students. Sarcasm can corrode trust with students, so avoid using it in general.
Schools feel pressure to focus on academic development, but it is crucial for teachers to help students develop a high emotional intelligence to maintain good physical and mental health, learn how to communicate with others, and achieve success in their future careers.
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