What is EQ?

I’ve been saying for 30 years human beings are more than their intellect. To be a human being includes our emotions. EQ is the Quality of our emotions or how we manage our reactions to the events and situations in our lives.

Until very recently emotional literacy was not thought to be a part of the classroom. Far from it, especially at the high school level. “It was not my job as a teacher to impact the way the student manages his or her emotions”, was a common comment in the staffroom at my school.

However, if you think about your own experience as a human being or as a professional, as a teacher, you know that you and I are still engaged in managing our emotions. In fact, when I am in a classroom with 30 students, I am very aware that my reactions make a difference to the overall outcomes I produce with my students.

As a teacher the emotions that I manage every day include:

  • Ability to delay reaction time
  • Patience
  • Equanimity
  • Psychological hardiness
  • Stillness

I’ll never forget an incident that happened when I was teaching 5th grade. I reacted in anger at a student and the change in feeling in my classroom instantly changed. The classroom went from warm and playful with the students having fun to frigid ice, the class froze. Just remembering it hurts in the pit of my stomach.

In that moment, I vowed never to react with such anger again. Naturally, that vow became a learning process. I had to learn to manage my emotional reactions over time.

So it is with students. Students have to manage their reactions and they learn this as a process over time. Some of the emotional qualities that I begin with in the middle years include:

  • Self-control
  • Calmness
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-confidence

Emotional literacy is a teachable process.

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