Are EQ and SEL Good Teaching Tools?
It’s a sad fact of life.
Within the first five years of teaching, 40-50% of teachers will quit. Could Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tools help the retention of educators? The MetLife Teacher Survey of the American Teacher (PDF) reveals that teachers are experiencing more stress on the job now more than ever before. They said that they are dealing with “great stress at least three times a week.”
Teaching is an emotional practice, and teachers need support in learning to deal with stressors that might otherwise lead to their “throwing in the hat” and leaving the profession. Yes, teachers need to learn. They need help in developing their social emotional learning and emotional intelligence skills.
“Emotional Intelligence” as a concept gained broad public attention with the publication of Daniel Goleman’s New York Times bestseller of the same name in 1995.
EQ (as Emotional Intelligence is now known) is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, the nation’s leading SEL practice, policy, and research organization, defines SEL as “the process through which children (and adults) acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
Teacher well-being is critical to avoid burn-out among educators, and social emotional competencies are what increases well-being.
CASEL organizes SEL into five core competencies: self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
Imagine trying to react to a student’s misbehavior without first connecting with your own feelings and emotions. It doesn’t happen. Since the SEL core competencies aren’t generally taught in mandatory professional development courses or teacher preparation programs, it would be a gross underestimate to assume that all teachers are equal in terms of knowing how to apply them to the situation.
Social and emotional competencies aren’t secondary to the mission of education, but are concrete factors in the success of teachers, students, and schools.
There are three ways in which teachers’ SEC affect both students and the classroom.
- The quality of teacher-student relationships are a direct result of a teacher’s SEC. When a teacher is calm, positive, and content, he or she will be better equipped to handle challenging student behavior in a warm and sensitive manner.
- Whether intentional or not, teacher’s SEC is a model for students. Students are watching how teachers navigate stressful situations, manage frustration, deal with conflicts and maintain control in the learning environment.
- A well-organized classroom requires that the teacher be calm, organized, and socially trust-worthy. This type of learning environment encourages creativity and student autonomy.
How can teachers develop EQ?
Identifying the problem is only a start. There are many resources available on developing EQ in students, but what about teachers? Here are some resources I’ve identified that are useful in this respect.
Are you a teacher? What is your Emotional Intelligence Quotient? Leave me a comment!