Social-emotional learning. Character education. Bullying prevention. These programs all fall under the larger umbrella of emotional intelligence (EQ)—the ability to manage one’s feelings and interact positively with other people. While many schools may touch on it during the school year, Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., and Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D., authors of Boost Emotional Intelligence in Students, advocate for more formal training in EQ. During their recent edWebinar “How to Boost Emotional Intelligence in Students,” they explained how data shows a high EQ is “more highly correlated with career success than academic skills.” More important, in order to help kids retain their EQ skills, they said schools need to adopt a systematic approach to improving emotional awareness.
The 3 primary areas of EQ
- Self-awareness and self-management: These areas focus on helping children understand their own EQ strengths and challenges. Students learn how to not only recognize and talk about their feelings but also work on maintaining and achieving self-control. The purpose of this skill set is to teach students how to be their best selves.
- Social awareness and relationship skills: These skills are about learning to read the social and emotional cues of others. Here, the goal is to not only be able to anticipate and defuse their own trigger situations, but for kids to learn how to empathize with others. Empathy also discusses understanding cultural distinctions. With this skill, kids learn how to “code switch” and operate in different ways with different people.
- Problem-solving skills: Here, students build on their previous lessons to develop problem-solving strategies they can adapt to a variety of situations. The presenters noted that employers are looking for individuals that can handle stress, value responsibility, resolve conflicts, and find creative solutions to problems. These are all hallmarks of EQ.
Weaving EQ into a crowded curriculum
Knowing that time can be limited for EQ education, Elias and Tobias offered guidance on which skills to cover first. If EQ is part of a year-long curriculum, teachers should cover all three skill areas. If there are 21 or more EQ sessions, teachers should start with skill area one and then choose either skill area two or three for follow up.
If your school cannot accommodate numerous sessions, it is best to concentrate on skill area one. The key is to provide students with enough opportunities to internalize the lessons. In addition to providing homework for the EQ curriculum, teachers need to communicate with their colleagues so that the other educators encourage the students to use their new skills.
Finally, Elias and Tobias stressed the importance of looking at individual student improvement rather than relying on a standardized EQ assessment. “The best thing you can do is to monitor what you are teaching. The things we are talking about are not really complicated to monitor,” said Elias. “Conversations [with your colleagues] and those indicators that you can create based on the specifics that you are doing are going to be far more useful to you than a scale that was created—it might be reliable or valid—but it’s not focusing on the specific skills that you are working on.”
About the Presenters
Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., is a professor and former director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University. He is also director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, academic director of the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service, and founding member of the Leadership Team for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Dr. Elias lectures nationally and internationally and devotes his research and writing to the areas of social-emotional and character development in children, schools, and families. He is a licensed psychologist and writes a blog on social-emotional and character development for the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D., is the director of the Center for Child & Family Development in Morristown, New Jersey. He has more than 30 years of experience working with children, parents, families, and schools. Dr. Tobias feels a strong commitment to children’s social and emotional development and provides consultation to schools as a way of reaching many children, including those who are underserved in terms of their social and emotional needs. He has co-authored several books with Dr. Maurice Elias, including Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers. He has given lectures throughout the United States on topics related to parenting and children’s emotional development.
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The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.
[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]
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