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Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom and the Workplace
September 12, 2023
Sé impecable con tus palabras. (Be impeccable with your word)
-Don Miguel Ruiz, Los Cuatro Acuerdos (The Four Agreements)

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized,” declared Haim Ginott, 1922-1973, teacher and child psychologist.

In their classic work on emotional intelligence in the workplace, Daniel Goleman et al echo Ginott's thoughts on the classroom:

The leader’s mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else…High levels of emotional intelligence, our research showed, create climates in which information sharing, trust, healthy risk-taking, and learning flourish. Low levels of emotional intelligence create climates rife with fear and anxiety. Because tense or terrified employees can be very productive in the short term, their organizations may post good results, but they never last.

Goleman et al describe four intertwined elements of emotional intelligence in the workplace: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management. Boulton and Haugen discuss how they relate:

Practicing self-awareness and self-management creates space for increased social awareness…Through self-awareness we expand our social/emotional vocabulary and through self-management we open space to notice the cues and conditions that impact how others might be thinking, feeling, acting or reacting. Social awareness provides the necessary understanding to authentically nurture relationships, helping others to feel the support, confidence and motivation to do their part. We tune in with greater empathy…Diverse perspectives become opportunities for problem-solving and innovation rather than triggers for confusion or conflict.


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · September 12, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Yes, another profoundly good argument for advocating for and investing in early childhood professionals (or broader issues like universal health care). We need a fundamental shift in how - and why - we value early childhood care and education.

Francis Wardle · September 12, 2023
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

The more I read about the importance of the emotional intelligence of teachers and caregivers, the more I realize the critical need to make sure all people working with young children receive the pay and benefits needed to feel secure and comfortable. How can someone engage in trust and healthy risk-taking when they are constantly worrying about whether they can pay their rent or meet the basic needs of their children? It's rather obvious that we MUST address the physical needs of our work force before we insist on their emotional intelligence.

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