18 August, 2010

Emotional Intelligence And Teaching

Are you one of those teachers that can achieve a good rapport with your students? Do your colleagues envy you because you always get the best out of your students? Are you the teacher everyone calls for when there is a situation that needs to be dealt with? Do the students listen when you talk? Do they give you respect?

Well if so, you probably have very good interpersonal skills and that means a high level of emotional intelligence.

What about you as a person? Do you allow yourself to be negative a lot of the time or do you work hard at focusing on the positive? Do you get yourself all stressed up when things are not going your way or do you take some personal time to reflect that this is just another problem that has to be dealt with? Do you focus on the problem or do you focus on the solution? Do you have the ability to be calm when all around people are losing it?

Again, being positive within yourself means you have a high level of emotional intelligence.

How you deal with things in life is important? Deal with them negatively and you take yourself on a little journey of pain and suffering every time. Deal with them positively and not only do you feel good but suddenly everyone's beating a path to your door for some enlightenment.

As a teacher you need to achieve rapport, you need to be empathic; you need to be in control of your emotions. Why? Because then you can teach your students to be exactly the same.

Don't forget that there are many adults in this world whose greatest role model was their teacher.

In the book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman writes about two types of EI communication, intra-personal and inter-personal. Firstly, commuicating with yourself (intra-personal). This is how you communicate with yourself. Are you a negative or positive person? Are your thoughts about yourself self-defeating or do you push yourself forward or build yourself up? Your self-talk or communication will have evolved through the thousands of experiences in your life. You will probably walk and talk your life to date literally.

Secondly, communicating with others (inter-personal) where you have the ability to bond with and identify emotions in other people, in their attitudes, behaviours, designs, artwork, through their language. The ability to achieve great relationships.

As a teacher you should find the following true story on behaviour interesting. It is about rage and aggression. Subjects that many of you should have a chest of medals for.

In fact if some of you were to rewrite your job description it would read something like - counsellor, psychologist, behaviour specialist, parent, friend, motivational coach, role model, mentor and teacher.

Many of you will have had many years experience of dealing with rage and aggression and this story will resonate with you. For others I hope you will find something here that will help you to achieve a greater rapport and empathy with the young people you work with. Although it is not in a teaching environment we can still learn from it.

My thanks to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence for giving us this wonderful piece of writing.

Emotional Brilliance `The Drunk’
If the test of social skill is the ability to calm distressing emotions in others, then handling someone at the peak of rage is perhaps the ultimate measure of mastery.

The data on self-regulation of anger and emotional contagion suggest that one effective strategy might be to distract the angry person, empathise with his feelings and perspective, and then draw him into an alternative focus, one that attunes him with a more positive range of feeling, a kind of emotional judo.

Such refined skill in the fine art of emotional influence is perhaps best exemplified by a story told by an old friend, the late Terry Dobson, who in the 1950s was one of the first Americans ever to study the martial art Aikido in Japan.

One afternoon he was riding home on a suburban Tokyo train when a huge, bellicose, very drunk and begrimed labourer got on. The man, staggering, began terrorising the passengers, screaming curses, he took a swing at a woman holding a baby, sending her sprawling in the laps of an elderly couple, who then jumped up and joined a stampede to the other end of the car.

The drunk, taking a few other swings (and, in his rage, missing), grabbed the metal pole in the middle of the car with a roar and tried to tear it out of its socket. At that point Terry, who was in peak physical condition from daily eight hour Aikido workouts, felt called upon to intervene, lest someone get seriously hurt.

But he recalled the words of his teacher: "Aikido is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate people you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it." Indeed, Terry had agreed upon beginning lessons with his teacher never to pick a fight, and to use his martial-arts skills only in defence.

Now, at last, he saw his chance to test his Aikido abilities in real life, in what was clearly a legitimate opportunity. So, as all the other passengers sat frozen in their seats, Terry stood up, slowly and with deliberation.

Seeing him, the drunk roared, "Aha! A foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners!" and began gathering himself to take on Terry. But just as the drunk was on the verge of making his move, someone gave an ear-splitting, oddly joyous shout: "Hey!" The shout had the cheery tone of someone who has suddenly come upon a fond friend.

The drunk, surprised, spun around to see a tiny Japanese man, probably in his seventies, sitting there in a kimono. The old man beamed with delight at the drunk, and beckoned him over with a light wave of his hand and a lilting "C'mere." The drunk strode over with a belligerent, "Why the hell should I talk to you?"

Meanwhile, Terry was ready to fell the drunk in a moment if he made the least violent move. "What'cha been drinking?" the old man asked, his eyes beaming at the drunken labourer. "I been drinking sake, and it's none of your business," the drunk bellowed. "Oh, that's wonderful, absolutely wonderful," the old man replied in a warm tone. "You see, I love sake, too. Every night, me and my wife (she's seventy-six, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it out into the garden, and we sit on an old wooden bench . . ." He continued on about the persimmon tree in his backyard, the fortunes of his garden, enjoying sake in the evening.

The drunk's face began to soften as he listened to the old man; his fists unclenched. "Yeah ... I love persimmons, too .. . ," he said, his voice trailing off. "Yes," the old man replied in a sprightly voice, "and I'm sure you have a wonderful wife." "No," said the labourer. "My wife died...." Sobbing, he launched into a sad tale of losing his wife, his home, his job, of being ashamed of himself.
Just then the train came to Terry's stop, and as he was getting off he turned to hear the old man invite the drunk to join him and tell him all about it, and to see the drunk sprawl along the seat, his head in the old man's lap.

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