| Good Morning, How Are You?
Once, when I was still a class teacher, I had this idea to greet each member of my class before they entered the classroom. All 35 of them lined up in the corridor and one by one I shook their hands and had a quick 'Good Morning how are you?' before they sat down and set to work. I'd just read 'Emotional Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman and this seemed like an authentic way to put his ideas into practice.
My aim was to acknowledge and value every child but also to take the emotional temperature of the group. Well before 9 o'clock I'd know who'd had a rough night, whose birthday it was and who was likely to kick off. I'd deal with it there and then.
I made a few changes here and there such as asking the children to revise their spellings while they waited in line and speeding up the greeting if we had a busier day. All in all the children settled faster and I got to know them quicker than previous classes. A win.
You are wasting valuable learning time
The story so far is not the point I'm making about emotional intelligence. The next part of the story is: My room was opposite the Head and Deputy's office and one day, just after I'd greeted the last child, I was told to stop the morning greet because it was 'Wasting valuable learning time'. Out of the blue; no discussion or questioning. Just an instruction. I did have a less than perfect working relationship with my leaders at that time. We had different priorities. But I didn't fight it, I didn't believe it was on the table for negotiation or professional discussion.
Recognise, Name, Express, Move On
The point I want to make about emotional intelligence is that, nearly 20 years later, the emotion of that event is still there. And it's there because although I understood how to enact one aspect of emotional intelligence for my children, I did not live it out for myself. At the time I did not fully recognise the emotion or name it. I did not express it appropriately and because of that I did not move on.
OK, so the memory of it does not blight my every waking moment, but it did surface very quickly when I sat down to write this short piece.
EI in School
Schools are emotional places. Spending over 6 hours a day with people you haven't chosen to be with, often doing tasks in which you had little say is bound to have an emotional impact.
Emotional Intelligence is the oil that keeps the gears turning smoothly against each other. By smoothly I don't mean that everything is happy and jolly all the time. What I mean is that children and adults do their best to be aware of what they are feeling, they learn to express their feelings at the right time, to the right people and at the right intensity, and they are able to move on and not let unexpressed emotions hijack their day.
Writing your story is a very effective way to do this - if you've left things a little late...