Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Teachers' Emotional Intelligence: The Impact of Training

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Teachers' Emotional Intelligence: The Impact of Training

Article excerpt

Introduction

Israeli schools, like those in much of the Western world, emphasize academic achievement (Tal, 2005; Bar-On, 2007 respectively). However, academic achievement in Israel have not risen (Lior, 2008; Yogev, 2008), disciplinary and behavioral problems are on the rise (Kfir & Ariav, 2008) and students often report experiencing some form of violence during their years at school (Benbenishti, Astor, & Marachi, 2003; Gottlieb, 2009). Such focus on academic output neglects important areas in education, such as social, affective and behavioral aspects which have been known to impact learning (Day, Sammons, Stobard, Kington, & Gu, 2007). In particular, it may not be addressing what Cohen (2006) views as one of the main challenges schools face today, namely helping students be healthy, happy and successful in meeting the challenges of their increasingly complex social environment. Indeed, Israeli parents and students testify that schools fail to prepare children for adult life in today's world (Amir, 2006; Shavit & Blank, 2011), while teachers voice a similar concern (Smith & Pniel, 2003).

There has been a growing recognition of the importance of social-emotional competencies in students' learning and academic success (Brackett, Alster, Wolfe, Katulak, & Fale, 2007, Shahinzadeh, Barkhordari , & Ahmadi, 2015), their well-being (Sánchez-Álvareza, Extremera, & Fernández-Berrocal, 2016), positive interpersonal relationships with teachers and peers (Brackett & Katulak, 2006; Cohen & Sandy, 2007; Wols, Scholte, & Qualter, 2015), and pro-social behaviours and lower involvement in disruptive, violent and addictive behaviours (Freedman & Jensen, 2008). Consequently, social emotional learning (SEL) programmes are increasingly being implemented, showing a range of positive effects on students' academic and social behaviours (Freedman & Jensen, 2008; Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010). Yet, although most Israeli schools claim to employ a 'whole child' approach, programmes aimed at enhancing social -emotional competencies, life skills and general values typically comprise only a small part of school curricula.

Furthermore, even in countries where "a great deal of attention has spotlighted students' EI development, there has been little focus on teachers' own development" (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009, p. 496). More generally, until recently there has been a 'neglect of emotion in the field of teaching' (Hargreaves, 2001a, p. 1057). Thus, little is known about the impact of developing teachers' EI on their EI levels and related behaviours and on their practice, in particular in Israeli context. The current study investigates the impact of a teacher- centered EI training on teachers' EI. It also examines the impact of the training on teachers' EI related classroom behaviors, teachers' effectiveness, and the school as a whole.

Theoretical framework

The concept of Emotional intelligence (EI) has highlighted the interdependence between cognition and emotions and the importance of emotions and emotional processes to thinking and decision making. Salovey and Mayer (1990) described EI as "the ability to monitor one's own and other feelings and emotions, discriminate among them and use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (p. 189). They suggested EI to be comprised of the ability to identify, use, understand and regulate emotions (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). In a model argued to be particularly suitable for teachers (Drew, 2006), Bar-On attended to the emotional and social behavior-related competencies underlying EI and defined EI as "a cross-section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands " (Bar-On, 2006, p. 3). He suggested EI to be comprised of five major areas, each consisting of a number of competencies, namely Intrapersonal (emotional self-awareness, self-regard, assertiveness, independence and self-actualization); Interpersonal (empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal relations); Adaptability (reality testing, flexibility and problem solving); Stress management (stress tolerance and impulse control); and General mood (happiness and optimism) (Bar-On, 2006). …

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