Become an Emotionally Intelligent Educator with These Proven Techniques!

When you interact with students, you can’t do so without feeling something. – J., the physician.

Whether or not we are aware, emotions are present in all aspects of our communication. As an illustration, as you read this introductory paragraph, you are likely experiencing some sort of emotional response. As a reader, it is either a matter of feeling a strong connection with the material and wanting to continue, or it is a matter of believing that you already know enough about the subject and don’t see the point in continuing.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t use the term “emotional presence” to describe someone who’s having an extreme emotional reaction. In other words, it means that you’re reacting in a specific way to what you’re feeling or hearing. Words can be so provocative or inflammatory that they cause a strong emotional response in you. This can happen when they are spoken or written. Your response is critical in these situations, and choosing wisely can be difficult at times.
The majority of my interactions with students are in written form, which means that I’m receiving classroom messages, emails, and written classroom posts from students. Immediately after reading something I’ve received, I feel a variety of emotions. Even if I’m aware of the need to wait and process my feelings, I usually respond right away. I may also need to conduct additional research before I can provide a response, which means that I will have to delay my response.

Since emotional intelligence has been widely discussed and defined, I’m not going to repeat what has already been said. When it comes to the work of an educator, my view of emotional intelligence is a little different. Understanding and controlling one’s emotions can be accomplished by recognising and managing one’s emotional responses to what one reads or hears. We must move beyond Level One or emotional responses to our learners, which is where emotional responses take place, and into Level Two or the place in the brain where well-informed and emotionally intelligent responses are formed.

Level One: Reactions Driven by Emotional States of Mind

There are two distinct levels of information processing in my view of the mind’s ability to process information. When data or input is received, processing begins at the Level One level. Filters such as bias, beliefs, opinions, perceptions, and so on are used to receive and process information at this level. Processing takes place automatically at Level One. When we read or listen to information, we rarely consider the impact of our preconceived notions, beliefs, and biases on what we take in. Our responses to requests received at this early stage tend to be more immediate, almost automatic, sometimes reactive, and emotional when prompted by the wording of the response.

Due to the speed and lack of consideration for the impact of emotions on a situation, Level One responses are not considered the most intelligent. Think about the last time one of your students sent you an email or text message. What was your response time? Did you take a moment to reflect on how you were feeling?

It’s very likely that you were aware of how you were feeling, but you failed to consider the implications of that emotion on the decisions you were about to make. You may later regret how you reacted or wish you had chosen a better response if the response was not communicated in the most appropriate manner. Looking back after a decision has already been made is a great way to learn from mistakes.

Level 2: Reactions that are emotionally intelligent

My personal belief is that rational thought and reasoning originate at this level of mental processing. Responses at Level Two are more proactive, which means they take into account what has been said or requested before coming up with an answer. Every communication request that a student receives does not have to be handled in this manner. However, I’ve discovered that in order to grow as an educator, I need to pay closer attention to how I respond to students’ requests and how they express themselves.

What do you do, for example, if a student sends a message or email to the class expressing his or her dissatisfaction with their grade and the tone of the message conveys extreme frustration? An immediate or reactive Level One response that explains the grading scale and feedback is one of the options available in this scenario, but there are many other options as well. Providing a Level Two response and explaining in detail why the current grade was given may lead to a series of lengthy email exchanges. Level Two responses: