Two words that frighten me: “emotional” and “intelligence.”
I worry that the emotional student may go off like a time bomb and be totally outside my control, highjack my session and require that I take care of him/her, or in some way act like a counsellor, which I don’t want to be, and am not trained for. Or that my own emotions will overwhelm me and prevent me from acting as my “best self.” Emotions are so messy.
Intelligence is a concept that is the opposite of messy. I think of a number. 122. 101. 145. 92. Not one number up or down, but exact and set in stone. Even when I think of multiple intelligences, I think about being smart in some ways, and not-so-smart in other ways. Intelligence has a hard edge to it. If I’m not smart enough, I can’t get smarter.
So put the two words together to say “emotional intelligence” and there is the place for panic. Messy and nowhere to go.
Enter Alan Mortiboys and the new (2012) edition of Teaching with Emotional Intelligence. I read the first edition several years ago, and loved his approach to affective teaching. Or should I say effective affective teaching? Or just effective teaching? He says that emotional intelligence is not something you either have or don’t have, but rather something that can be developed through reflection, intention, and practice. His book is full of practical ideas to help teachers plan for a positive emotional environment, improve relationships with learners, become aware of students’ feelings, and develop self-awareness.
His premise that we can all develop emotional intelligence reminds me of my first encounter with the Saskatchewan NewStart Life Skills program. It was such a relief to know that listening, for example, was a skill that could be learned (and that I could learn to teach to others) rather than a gift. I had thought people were born to be either “ears” or “talkers.”
So I was glad to see this new edition of Teaching with Emotional Intelligence, with new material on working one-on-one with students, working online, and working with international students. Although Mortiboys mainly works with postsecondary educators, I found nothing in his book that doesn’t also apply to adult basic education, adult literacy, GED, and ESOL students.
Thanks to Tina Chau at Decoda Literacy for bringing it to my desk.
Mortiboys, A. (2012). Teaching with Emotional Intelligence. Second edition. London and New York: Routledge.