HIGHER LEARN­ING

Emo­tional in­tel­li­gence is crit­i­cal to suc­cess in school and life

Oi Vietnam - - Contents -

READ­ING. WRIT­ING.

‘RITHMATIC. These “three R’s” of ed­u­ca­tion have been em­braced as the pil­lars of ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams around the world. Of­ten over­looked, how­ever, is the ne­ces­sity for a strong foun­da­tion of so­cial-emo­tional learn­ing that sup­ports a child as he or she works work to ex­cel academically. As a child’s emo­tional in­tel­li­gence de­vel­ops, so do skills in­clud­ing mak­ing re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sions, self-management, and build­ing re­la­tion­ships. From that foun­da­tion, the child can achieve suc­cess in school, fu­ture ca­reers, and in life.

Emo­tional in­tel­li­gence is the abil­ity to rec­og­nize, man­age and un­der­stand our own emo­tions and the emo­tions of oth­ers. In re­cent years, sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions have de­vel­oped re­search­based best prac­tices for teach­ers who want to im­ple­ment so­cial-emo­tional learn­ing in their class­room. These or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clude the RULER pro­gram from the Yale Cen­ter for Emo­tional In­tel­li­gence, the Re­spon­sive

Class­room ap­proach de­vel­oped by the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Schools, and the Ki­mochi’s Ed­u­ca­tors Toolkit.

In my years in class­rooms, I have in­cor­po­rated a va­ri­ety of ideas from those or­ga­ni­za­tions that help my stu­dents de­velop emo­tional in­tel­li­gence. One com­po­nent of so­cial-emo­tional learn­ing is help­ing stu­dents un­der­stand the im­por­tance of func­tion­ing as mem­bers of a com­mu­nity. Cre­at­ing a class char­ter is one idea from the RULER pro­gram that can help lead to this sense of com­mu­nity. The char­ter is a doc­u­ment that is cre­ated by the stu­dents and the teacher that out­lines how the stu­dents and the teacher want to treat each other, how they want to feel at school, and what they will do to help achieve these de­sired feel­ings. My stu­dents last year, for ex­am­ple, said they wanted to feel “proud” and “loved” then came up with a list of ways they could help each other feel that way. Af­ter the char­ter is com­pleted, every­one signs it. That way every­one, in­clud­ing the teacher, is ac­count­able. Nam­ing spe­cific feel­ings and the ac­tions that will lead to those feel­ings helps stu­dents de­velop the self­aware­ness needed to rec­og­nize how ac­tions and feel­ings are connected. The char­ter can be ref­er­enced through­out the year to re­mind stu­dents that we are a class­room com­mu­nity work­ing to­gether.

An­other strat­egy to build a sense of com­mu­nity and help with com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills is set­ting aside time each day for a com­mu­nity meet­ing. Dur­ing the com­mu­nity meet­ing, stu­dents should prac­tice greet­ing each other, share in­for­ma­tion about an im­por­tant part of their life, and pos­si­bly par­tic­i­pate in a short ac­tiv­ity de­signed to prac­tice so­cial and aca­demic skills. Ded­i­cat­ing time for stu­dents to share with each other helps de­velop a sense of be­long­ing as well as im­prove their speak­ing and lis­ten­ing skills. Com­mu­nity meet­ings also are a great time to re­view the char­ter.

Self-management is an­other emo­tional in­tel­li­gence skill that can be de­vel­oped in the class­room. In my class­room, I have a clip chart that helps stu­dents mon­i­tor in­di­vid­ual be­hav­ior. Ev­ery stu­dent has a clip with their name on it. Stu­dents move their clips up and down the chart based on the choices they make. Hav­ing this clip chart vis­i­ble to stu­dents helps them mon­i­tor their choices through­out the day. I also use Class Dojo, which is an app where teach­ers can give or take away points for spe­cific ac­tions or traits, such as “re­spon­si­bil­ity” or “team­work.” For ex­am­ple, a stu­dent could earn a point for “team­work” by help­ing a peer with a prob­lem they do not un­der­stand. Earn­ing this point helps the stu­dent un­der­stand the pos­i­tive im­pact of that choice and pro­vides them with the sat­is­fac­tion of be­ing rec­og­nized for a pos­i­tive be­hav­ior. No mat­ter which sys­tem a teacher uses, it is im­por­tant that the stu­dents un­der­stand the why be­hind any re­ward or con­se­quence. Brief af­fir­ma­tions such as, “You are do­ing an ex­cel­lent job read­ing qui­etly. This helps every­one fo­cus on their read­ing,” help stu­dents un­der­stand how and why to choose ac­tions that help them learn, stay safe, and re­spect oth­ers.

An­other im­por­tant as­pect of emo­tional in­tel­li­gence is per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. Chil­dren have to learn how to solve prob­lems on their own in­stead of al­ways re­ly­ing on a teacher or adult. In my class­room, we use the 4B’s, which is an acro­nym that en­cour­ages stu­dents to use “Book, Brain, Board, or Buddy” be­fore they ask a teacher for as­sis­tance. Par­ents can sup­port per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity at home by giv­ing their child spe­cific tasks, such as pack­ing their own lunch, that they are ex­pected to com­plete on their own. Ide­ally, stu­dents will de­velop in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion, so the fo­cus shouldn’t be on any re­ward they can earn. In­stead, chil­dren should learn that they are re­spon­si­ble for com­plet­ing cer­tain tasks on their own with­out re­quir­ing re­minders or as­sis­tance. For older stu­dents, stu­dent-led par­ent teacher con­fer­ences are a good op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to demon­strate their per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. By giv­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of lead­ing the con­fer­ence to the stu­dent, stu­dents are em­pow­ered to take own­er­ship over their goals and progress.

In my class­room, it is not enough for my stu­dents to sim­ply learn aca­demic con­tent. I place a high pre­mium on mod­el­ing ways for them to dig deeper, de­velop a pas­sion for learn­ing, and be­come good hu­man be­ings. This can be a hefty task, but I be­lieve that devel­op­ing strong emo­tional in­tel­li­gence in my stu­dents is a key fac­tor to help­ing them achieve their goals.

Carolyn French is Grade 2 teacher with a B.A (Hons) BA from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and an M.A El­e­men­tary Ed­u­ca­tion

from the Univer­sity of Mis­souri at the In­ter­na­tional School Saigon Pearl (ISSP).

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