The MOST Important Teacher Tool in Today's Educational Upheaval

We thought the end of the 2019-20 school year was unprecedented. Then the beginning of 2020-21 showed up.

Educators across the nation are reeling in the midst of decisions, indecision, and un-decision all at the same time. The typical expectations of the beginning of the school year are shattered.

Yet, teachers are expected to be teachers; to engage and teach their students. Virtually. Distant learning without technology. Or hybrid models of gradual roll out or onsite/offsite rotations, and more.

Now more than ever, what’s in a teacher’s toolbox stretches beyond instructional strategies, schedule balancing, behavior and classroom management, and grading. Growing that toolbox has become vital.

But what do teachers need? What is the most important tool in that toolbox?

Consider those educators who have been able to keep a smile on their face and show up for their students and colleagues in positive and supportive ways – at no cost to their own personal health and well-being. Or those who have turned up the creative dial on what they are trying with their students and community.

What have they got that so many others lack?

More importantly, how can you get it?

These educators haven’t found a magic elixir or developed super human strength. They are simply exercising their very important skills required for keeping themselves upright even when the world is upside down.

They have emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the most important tool a teacher can possess in today’s crazy, unpredictable, stressful, distance-keeping world.

Don’t misunderstand. It was important before COVID. But now, mid to post pandemic, it is the one tool teachers can’t survive or succeed without.

Emotional Intelligence is the tool of resilience. Right now, resilient teachers are the ones who will serve both themselves and their students best.

It won’t make it “easy.” It does make it survivable and, dare I say, thrivable.

Consider the five components of emotional intelligence:

  1. 1.      Self-regulation: Strategies and tools that allow one to identify feelings, both inside and outside, ask for what is needed and re-orient yourself back to a feeling of being okay. This is crucial in a maintaining a sense of personal safety. It is also about focus and the ability to stay on task even when it is difficult. At its best, it requires a growth mindset.
  2. 2.      Self-awareness: Skills to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses, being able to engage in a process of self-reflection and acting on it. It includes those skills needed to be able to maintain self-care, increase confidence, and have clear boundaries.
  3. 3.     Empathy: The skills to see and feel from another's perspective. It is about listening, even when the perspective offered is different from our own, without a need to give advice, correct, or even corroborate. It includes recognizing that others have feelings about their experiences, being able to provide support to while they are recovering from those experiences and feelings, all without judgement or blame.
  4. 4.      Social skills: These are the skills that allow us to have ease with which to engage in social activities and groups and manage conflict. It is the tools of engaging with others in meaningful relationships that have depth and breadth with good communication and healthy attachment.
  5. 5.     Motivation: The skills and insights needed to know and understand what drives us, how to plan and achieve our goals, and, as educators, how to motivate our students. This is all about high expectations, consistency, and a strengths-based perspective.

Together these components support the development of resilience. Resilience is made up of the skill sets within four domains:

·Sense of Safety: Safety is a basic human need which, when in place, allows all other areas of development to grow in healthy and stable ways.

·Sense of Self: Development of personal identity within the context of healthy social personae

·Relationships: Creating healthy interpersonal networks that can withstand and support the individual throughout lie experience.

·Adaptive Capacity: The ability to face life as it unfolds, embracing possibilities, and adjusting to support healthy, continued development of self and others.

So it is we find the Yin and Yang of resilience.

Emotional intelligence in teachers is the first step in trauma-informed practice, in teaching students about social emotional learning and resilience. You can’t give what you haven’t got. Nothing is truer about resilience.

Curious about where you are in your emotional intelligence? Use this questionnaire to get a quick look at your own emotional intelligence.

Then join us on August 18, 2020 at 11 AM Pacific Standard Time (west coast) to learn more about emotional intelligence and how to grow it as a tool in your teacher toolbox.

See you then!

With Respect,

Leah Kyaio