Helping Students Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

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At Gateway High School, we have a responsibility to look at the bigger picture when it comes to intelligence. Numerous studies have explored the importance of emotional intelligence, and the data shows that it is just as important as IQ. Characteristics like empathy, communication skills, and the ability to compromise are key ingredients for a successful classroom, especially when it comes to multiple students working together under a unified school culture. 

Emotional intelligence is especially important in the high school setting because it sets the stage for more efficient learning in the future. Empathy can help students avoid conflict, creating less disruptions so that all of Gateway’s students can learn effectively. Emotional intelligence helps students process negative emotions in a responsible manner, reducing distractions so they can focus on their schoolwork. 

A recent study published by the American Psychological Association found that students with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to achieve higher grades and test scores compared to students with lower levels of emotional intelligence. The lead author of the study, Dr. Carol MacCann, stated: “It’s not enough to be smart and hardworking; students must also be able to understand and manage their emotions to succeed at school.”

The Five Core Areas of Emotional Intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence was first popularized in 1995 by an American psychologist called David Goleman, who wrote the groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence that year. Goleman broke emotional intelligence into five core areas:

  • Self-Awareness: Self-aware students know how they feel, and they understand how their emotions impact the world around them. These self-students are also able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Self-Regulation: Students who can self-regulate are able to slow down and think before criticizing others, lashing out, or making rushed decisions based on their emotions. 
  • Motivation: Students with high levels of emotional intelligence are self-motivated. This means that they don’t need anyone else to push them towards their goals and academic excellence.
  • Empathy: Empathetic students can put themselves in other peoples’ shoes. These students can also read body language and respond properly to different emotions. 
  • Social Skills: Social skills allow students to communicate effectively using a variety of methods, such as conflict resolution, diplomacy, praise, and more. 

 

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?

While some students may be born with higher levels of empathy or self-awareness than others, emotional intelligence can be learned in the classroom. This is true regardless of the student’s age, whether they’re in Kindergarten or their senior year of high school. 

Research has shown that the best way for students to develop emotional intelligence is for them to observe it. In other words, teachers can help students learn emotional intelligence by using it themselves in the classroom. 

 

How Can We Teach Emotional Intelligence While Students are Remote Learning?

One of the most difficult barriers facing students today is the impersonal, disconnected nature of remote learning. This type of learning may have its advantages, but it also removes many of the important face-to-face aspects of education, especially in the context of emotional intelligence. 

Despite its drawbacks, there are advantages to virtual learning. Some learners excel better online that they do in face-to-face classes, particularly if they are highly introverted or easily distracted.

Students can still cultivate their emotional intelligence while learning remotely. Keeping a journal is one easy way to develop self-awareness and an understanding of one’s emotions. Self-regulation can be maintained through breathing exercises and meditation. Setting long-term goals is a great way to strive for self-motivation. Students can complete all these exercises outside of the classroom, allowing them to build their emotional intelligence even in a fully virtual environment.