The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Teachers

January 9, 2019
Emotional management in teachers is extremely important. It prevents stress and helps them deal with complicated situations in the classroom without affecting the students.

Teachers who reprimand their students, who lack empathy, who punish them instead of saying “I’m here if you need help”, and who even aggressively confront their students lack emotional intelligence.

These behaviors result from their inability to manage their own emotions. We don’t learn this at home or at school, which is why so many people lack these emotional management skills.

Putting ourselves in the teachers’ shoes

We didn’t write this article to point the finger at teachers. Most of them do the best they can with the resources they have. In many cases, the lack of emotional intelligence in teachers adds to the anxiety of having to face challenges such as students who have problems at home, parents who don’t come to parent-teacher meetings, or parents who are too demanding and always ask why their kids have what they consider “low” grades.

Every day there are more bullying cases in schools. Who prepares teachers to face these violent situations? Almost none of them have experience in the emotional management of problematic groups. However, the vast majority have experienced a situation of that type.

The emotional management of a problematic group starts with the management of the teacher’s own emotions. Teachers don’t turn into machines when they enter the classroom, nor do they leave their emotions outside the door. They teach with their own dreams, but also with their own worries.

On the other hand, many students drop out of school because their teachers lost their enthusiasm. Teachers can really influence students, so much so that the students can benefit if their teachers change for the better. Therefore, emotional intelligence is very important for teachers.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

-Henry Adams-

Sad girl in classroom.

Basic skills to improve emotional intelligence in teachers

Emotionally intelligent people have five basic skills. In order to describe each one of them, we were inspired by Salovey’s work, who organized these skills in the following order:

  • Self-knowledge: Knowing one’s own emotions and the relationship they have with our thoughts and actions will allow us to be more self-aware.
  • Emotional control: It allows us to dominate the impulsiveness that may arise in stressful or chaotic classroom situations.
  • Ability to motivate: It helps teachers understand how to motivate themselves, which then allows them to motivate their students.
  • EmpathyIt helps teachers communicate with students and understand them. Because maybe that student who doesn’t open their book in class is in the middle of their parents’ divorce and they don’t pay much attention to them.
  • Social and leadership skills: They make it possible to interact in effective ways with the students and to do so without losing authority.

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.”

-Haim Ginott-

Female teachers with her students.

Emotional intelligence helps protect against stress

Emotional intelligence helps teachers face certain stressful situations in which their actions can impact the students’ learning and well-being. Also, it helps them deal with the new challenges that come with problematic groups of students, crowded classrooms, or a lack of motivation.

We live in a society where values education and dealing with students’ problems in a more understanding way are important. Teachers have more influence than we think.

Being a teacher isn’t easy. Too many lessons, too many students, and anxiety define a teacher’s day to day life.

However, we can’t forget that we were the students many years ago. We had our own problems and we used to think “nobody understands me”. How great would it have been if instead of getting condescending looks from the teacher, we would’ve gotten a talk at the end of the class that would have shown us that we’re special and that they support us?