Teaching with Emotional Intelligence
Posted by selinalock on 31 March, 2009
I attended this session run by Alan Mortiboys on 23rd May at the University of Leicester.
So, what is teaching with emotional intelligence? Alan suggests “that is recognising the feelings of yourself and your learners, in order to make you both more effective in your roles” and “encouraging an emotional state in your learners that is conducive to learning.”
That doesn’t really tell you a lot until you start to examine the type of emotions you might (inadvertently) be invoking in your students. For example, in the session we looked at a list of metaphors of how we see our teaching role, such as law enforcer to the potentially criminal or carer to the vulnerable. Out of that list I chose salesperson to potential buyer, as I often feel we are trying to sell library resources to users and convince them to use them. However, I tend to associate salespeople with desperation and a feeling of discomfort. Is that really the effect I want to have on students?!
We then looked at the kind of feelings we do want to encourage in our learners, for example, confident, empowered, interested, receptive, motived, and thought about what we do to encourage these feelings. I felt slightly better in this exercise as I believe I encourage some of these feelings by acknowledging sources they already use, give them a chance to practice skills with help on hand and explain why the session will be useful. This also tied into the next exercise which looked at how we can address learners’ fears and expectations regarding their learning.
The last part of the session covered strategies for using emotional intelligence with learners:
- Being present: ensure you are aware of your learners reactions and listening to them so you can respond to their needs (if appropriate).
- Group empathy: try to be aware of things that could be affecting how your learners are feeling e.g. anxiety around exam time.
- Dealing with fears & expectations: make sure your learners are aware of what will happen in a course and what is expected of them.
- Acknowledging individuals: fro example, making eye contact equally among students, using their names and acknowledging previous contributions during a session.
- Physical environment: making this as pleasant as possible (for the parts that are under your control!!).
- Non-verbal communication: being aware of what your non-verbal communication might be saying – try videoing yourself to see what you look/sound like during teaching.
- Self-disclosure: letting the students know your human in an appropriate context e.g. OK, I’ve not tried this before so we’ll see how it goes… or, When I first started studying this area I found it difficult…”
- Prefacing your response: “I’m glad you asked that question…” but this only works if you genuinely mean it!
Overall, an interesting session which reminded me to consider the emotional dimension of teaching.