Teaching with Emotional Intelligence

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.

Microsoft clipartIntelligence 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.

8 thoughts on “Teaching with Emotional Intelligence

  1. As always, Kate this has really struck a cord for me. I have recently been lucky enough to receive funding for an adult learning transition programme in Wrexham Wales. The parents concerned are those who struggle to move successfully from their school-based family learning groups, to completing college-based further education courses. We are good at raising aspirations, condifence, and skills, we are clearly not adequately developing the resilience to cope with mainstream teaching in much larger groups, with far less support. We are starting with a blank canvas. The learners will lead on the curriculum which will still include embedded literacy(numeracy) to continue developing writing and research skills. Has anyone had any experience of this? Fear of empty page is in evidence here! The potential to make a real difference is so huge. To waste the gift of such an opportunity will be unforgivable. All suggestions/advice will be most welcome.

    • I tried to post this before but got booted, and since I can’t ever recall what I write, I will try my best to reproduce the questions I had for you Gill. 🙂

      First, would you explain what you mean by this? “The learners will lead on the curriculum which will still include embedded literacy(numeracy) to continue developing writing and research skills.”

      Second, what is the empty page you refer to? The student? The curriculum? That which has not yet been written but is demanded? All of the above?

      Sorry if I am being dense, but I am getting confused as to when you are referring to the student and when to the teacher, though admittedly, there is an overlap in those relationships.

      • Another thought: students who have been through adult education programs require extra services in college. These services include things like tutoring, counseling, basic healthcare, etc. In the U.S. community colleges are generally excellent at providing such supplemental services, as are some state colleges. I’ve worked in a variety of environments, and these public institutions seem to have the most resources. I’ve provided some of these services and even used them when I was a student. The only way I was able to pass Algebra I and II was with help from daily tutoring at the tutoring center! (And I passed with A’s, might I add.)

        The most horrific experiences I’ve had have been at private colleges that accept any student, even those who sign waivers that they have not passed the GED. These schools provide few if any services, charge high tuition, make promises never kept…they are unethical. They encourage students to take out loans that have no consumer protections. The students are generally minorities. They have learning disabilities, most undiagnosed. They might not be native speakers. The might have criminal records, which hinder them from getting any jobs these schools promise.

        Not all of these school are for-profit, either. IMO opinion, owners and those who give these schools public monies should be put in jail for white collar crime and have to refund all these students whose lives they have ruined.

    • Hi Gill:
      So unusual in these cost-cutting times to have this opportunity. You must be doing something right to get it! Congratulations.
      I agree with Katherine that institutions vary widely in the amount of support they can offer students–I know that generally in the UK things have been much better for students than in Canada or the US, but I know that times are changing.

      These are some strategies I’ve used and/or seen used to help people move on. I’m sure you’re thinking of these–I’m curious to know what you’re thinking of trying.
      1) Teachers, admin, etc. from the preparatory school work with teachers, admin from the receiving institution to plan/manage/support the transition.
      2) Field trips from your program to the larger program, well in advance of the student’s move.
      3) Explore the support systems available to students in the new program well before they leave your program, so they go armed with information, names, numbers, perhaps already having met some of the resources.
      4) trying to make a “cohort”of students moving on, to build in the “team” before they leave.
      5) having a regular time for those students who have moved on to come back for lunch/coffee at your program to report back, get re-charged, etc. (also serves as inspiration and information for current students thinking of moving on)

      Here are some resources that I know of:
      These two theses were done by people who used my classroom/program for their research–lots here about building a program where students have lots of input into the program:

      Soroke, Bonnie 2004. Doing freedom : an ethnography of an adult literacy centre

      Pare, Arleen Lyda (1994). Attending to Resistance: An Ethnographic Study of Resistance and Attendance in an Adult Basic Education Classroom. https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0064484

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