Early one morning, my teenage son was travelling on an exchange program abroad and somehow had his suitcase checked in with his passport. He found out just as he was about to board the plane, but by this time, his dad and I were already back home to start getting ready for work. So when we got a call from the airport; there was an uproar. They asked us to drive back to the airport to pick him up as he could not board without his passport! In that instant, a tidal wave of emotions surged through me, I saw flashes; the money we have spent so far, how he would be feeling, the disappointment etc.
Then the phone rang, it was my son! His dad took the phone and bellowed, ‘I told you to hold on the wallet with the passport. Why can’t you just listen?’
In that moment, I thought, ‘there has got to be a solution, let’s talk to the teachers.’ So the lead teacher came on to the phone; she was even angrier than us and with good reason. We appealed to her to please try to retrieve the suitcase to get the passport. Eventually, she agreed. Thankfully, the airport officials cooperated and the boy travelled. Phew! It was close.
Well, trust me to pick out the lesson from the experience. I pondered on the ways we reacted. I am very huge on emotional intelligence as teacher because on a daily basis, you have to deal with a range of behaviours that the students present.
The Emotionally Intelligent Teacher is one that has developed the ability to effectively deal with the pressures and demands of daily life and work. It means that you have developed the ability to identify your emotions and you have an understanding of what these emotions mean. It means that you realise how your emotions affect people that you are involved with. Emotional intelligence also helps you improve your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively. To become emotionally intelligent is a process of managing your reactions and responses to external and internal pressures.
The emotionally intelligent teacher is intentional, optimistic, hopeful and develops positive habits. Think about it; what ticks you off? What gets you upset? Can you think rationally and arrive at a solution in the midst of pressure? How do you communicate; aggressively, passively or assertively? Are you reflective? Can you step back from a situation and see the bigger picture? When dealing with a student’s negative behaviour, do you unleash on the student or step back to react commensurately?
Developing emotional intelligence skills can help you show more empathy towards others, make better decisions, produce in you the emotional strength to achieve meaningful goals, manage your anger and so much more.
Here are some ideas to use to improve your emotional intelligence:
- Be aware of others and watch how you react to others. Avoid rushing into judgements and be willing to look at other perspectives that you may have missed out.
- Be aware of how you react to stressful situations. Do you become stressed when things are not going your way? Do you blame others or make excuses for your own behaviour? Keeping calm and having things under control is always a plus in stressful situations.
- Take responsibility and apologise when you are wrong. Be responsible for your actions.
- Be proactive in challenging situations; always think of solutions. I have heard someone say that, ‘problems gravitate towards its solution’. So there is a solution which you need to find. Let that be your focus.
- Communicate clearly and assertively. This is a hard one for most people; the easiest way is to always mean what you say and be concise.
There are lots of strategies out there, what have you done to develop your Emotional Intelligence?