What Is It And Why Should You Care?
Emotional Literacy (or emotional intelligence as it’s more commonly referred to) is “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” (definition from Wikipedia)
Whew, that is a mouthful. Basically emotional literacy is understanding and dealing with emotions. Why is this important as a teacher? Well, aren’t we already dealing with emotions everyday? I think emotions and feelings are the most important thing we should know how to deal with as teachers. Not only to understand our own emotions, but teach our students how to understand and deal with their own emotions.
Our students are not getting as much emotional support at home. Especially if you work in a lower income district, students come to school with all of these feelings and look to teachers and the school day for them to be expressed. Many kids don’t understand what is going on with them, and many kids have high emotional literacy, but don’t have the space to learn how to understand it.
Then you look at the teacher, we are overwhelmed and overworked, and our feelings are spilling out all over the place. We don’t have time to teach what we need to teach in 42 minutes so forget even talking about feelings.
That is the problem. When we don’t understand it, even though they are happening all the time, feelings that is, then we ignore it and it becomes a huge problem.
So, emotional literacy is super important for teachers to understand.
There are four steps in understanding emotional literacy in education:
Step 1: Awareness – Make sure you understand and identify the emotions and what is happening..
Step 2: Thoughts and Emotions – Understand the relationship between what we think and what we feel. Some people feel and then think, and some people think and then feel. Either way, they are both related and they both can be controlled and managed.
Step 3: Attaching Meaning – Once you understand what you are feeling, and what thought caused it, then you can decide what to make it mean. This is where things get out of control quickly if not checked, and where emotions can flare up quicker than intended.
Step 4: Managing Emotions – The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional literacy in education. This is where you know you are in control, and you can choose to feel things that empower you and lead to happiness, not the other way around.
Action For You: Where do you think you could use this in your teaching?
Learning how to identify, understand, and manage your emotions will not only make you an amazing teacher, but an amazing person!