Nowadays, emotional intelligence is considered to be more important than knowledge and skills. It is emotional intelligence that defines how successful and happy the teenager will be in the future. That is why it is vital for teachers not only to develop language skills but also to enhance the development of emotional intelligence in young students.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is an ability to distinguish other people’s emotions and control the person’s own ones. It is extremely important in the harmonious development of a person as far as we live in society. There are several components of EI, which are:
self-awareness — being able to recognise own emotions;
motivation — the ability to continue doing something even in case of failure;
self-regulation — being in control of own emotions,
empathy — the ability to understand other people’s emotions;
adeptness — being able to cooperate with other people taking into account their emotions.
From early childhood, parents can unintentionally force their children to hide emotions. Moreover, adolescence is a period when teenagers tend to keep their feelings to themselves. Among teenagers “it is not cool” to uncover their emotions. However, there are still ways to develop teenagers’ EI. We, teachers, can note some deviations in children’s and teenagers’ emotional intelligence development, such as asociality, inability to build up relations with classmates, lack of self-control or excessive self-control etc., and help them reveal themselves and understand others better.
Why should we teach EI?
These days, school teachers are not just teachers anymore. They are couches and facilitators. Moreover, school teachers are not supposed to teach language, they are supposed to teach 21st-century skills, i.e. those skills that modern school students will need to work and live in society. They are critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and communication, creativity and imagination, citizenship, digital literacy, student leadership and personal development. Emotional intelligence is in the top-10 important skills for the year 2020, and that is why we, teachers, need to develop it.
How can teachers contribute to the development of emotional intelligence in teens?
One should remember that EI should be developed gradually and regularly. Include one of the following activities in lessons, and it will benefit your young students.
- Include engaging team-building warm-ups and icebreakers while working with teenagers. They help to establish warm relations between the students and with a teacher.
- Teach your teens to be mindful, help them reflect on their own attitudes and emotions.
- Discuss the emotions of other people. For example, if you watch a short video with a further discussion of its content, stop the video and ask how this or that character feels at that moment.
- During speaking activities, when teenagers tell a story about something relating to them personally, ask them to share how they felt.
- Practice group and pair work. Teenagers should learn how to cooperate as far as they will need this skill in any working environment.
- Use learning projects. They would help not only summarize and apply acquired knowledge, but also help teenagers to intercommunicate.
- Ask students to give feedback. They can assess the lesson, a certain activity, own work or work of their classmates. Below there is a simple form that can help you to get feedback from your students.
At first, a teacher can give feedback forms to children with different options. When children get used to giving feedback, they can answer on their own. Instead of doing it in the written form, one can also ask these questions orally at the end of the lesson.