Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Professional emotional development


Emotional intelligence is vital for effective teaching and teacher wellbeing, so there is good reason for teachers to get in touch with their emotions. Sooner or later, all teachers experience some kind of pressure, some form of stress and some level of concern about their performance in the classroom. They may feel that they are not in touch with the innumerable interactions that occur with their students everyday, but some teachers think they ought to be. The feeling of losing touch can lead to a sense of losing control, uncertainty about continuing in the role as a teacher, an inability to feel rewarded by one's efforts, and even thoughts about leaving the profession. Those feelings come about because there is a link between emotions and performance. The wellbeing of teachers is a concern for professional development co-ordinator and other school leadership staff, especially if it is evident that teachers are not reacting 'normally' to pressures, when they are acting as if they have suppressed their usual feelings of self-efficacy. Teaching is an emotional activity: the highs and lows are a natural result of the many interactions teachers have with students, other teachers, teaching teams, school leaders, administrators and parents. Individual differences exist in the way we handle the many emotions generated in the workplace and, for teachers, these differences have an influence on performance and levels of stress tolerance. The varying individual capacity to handle emotions is called 'emotional intelligence.' If schools want to ensure the wellbeing of teachers, leaders need to accept that different individuals have different levels of emotional intelligence, and they need to provide support and professional development for teachers in this area. [Author abstract, ed]

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