One of the many negative effect of the pandemic is related to the suppression of emotions. We have been obliged to were masks covering our faces, erasing our expressions and therefore the natural and basic communication skills related. Since we humans learn to express ourselves through imitation, kids are having hard time getting out their emotions… less crying, suppressed smiling, but lots of internal sadness and confusion. One antidote to the prior, comes with the learning and experiencing of emotional intelligence. Virginia Carrasco García is one of the teachers who decided to explore and work on emotions in the classroom, and we are proud to present part of her work here, and thankful for her collaboration and initiative.

Nowadays we live in the digital age where technology and visual media are the protagonists of children every day. This determines their way of life, requiring them to be fast, to rush through everything, without being able to appreciate the small details, the everyday, the feelings, the stimuli, the experiences, and the environment.

Numerous psychiatric studies show the increase in cases of anxiety and stress in children and adolescents. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate dynamics in the educational field to work on emotional skills and mindfulness to cope with stress.

Through a series of entertaining activities, modifications are introduced in the dynamics of the classroom, positively affecting its operation. With the intention of:

  • recognizing one’s own emotions and those of others,
  • stimulating the development of social skills,
  • learning to find satisfactory solutions to conflicts,
  • improving self-esteem, and
  • awakening humility and empathy.

In 1990, Salovey and Mayer published an article in which the term “Emotional Intelligence” first appeared as

“the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.

Five years later, the term became part of our vocabulary with the best-seller of the psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman: “Emotional Intelligence”, highlighting its relevance above the IQ, to achieve both professional and personal success.

The experience in the classrooms with students aged 9 and 12: knowing how our students feel

The teacher distributes two post-its to each student, and they must write anonymously something that makes them feel bad and something that makes them feel good. They are collected and pasted in two columns on the board. Students randomly read a post-it of each feeling aloud.

Performing the activity for the first time has unexpected consequences, such as loss of anonymity, as many want their identity to be known. Another consequence is the debate that was originated by each one of the post-its read, when the students themselves played to recognize the author of the comment, and to empathize with what was written in it.

Except for very specific cases, most of the comments are aimed at being accepted by the rest, understanding as important for their happiness the positive recognition of the group.

In the sessions, the students are collaborators, which generates a good working environment in the classroom. They get carried away by their emotions, in some cases even crying when expressing their feelings, both when giving compliments and when receiving them. Self-esteem and empathy are worked on, producing a positive change both in the students, as well as in the teachers who give the workshops.

Positive results and emotional benefits

Participating directly in these activities directly benefits the students, favoring social development, improving the climate in the classroom, and group cohesion. All this has a positive impact on their educational process, but also on their emotional adjustment and personal relationships.

The work of emotions helps students to acquire skills to develop emotional intelligence, helping them to grow emotionally and facilitating their adaptation to the world.

The dynamics that work on self-esteem favor students

  • feel confident about themselves,
  • have a positive image of themselves,
  • recognize their abilities,
  • accept their own limitations,
  • learn to express positive words, and to praise other classmates.

In these dynamics, basic social skills such as assertiveness, active listening, empathy, conflict resolution and cooperation are worked on. In addition, the appreciation sessions encourage students to appreciate the positive power of thanking, appreciating who they are, what they have, and being kind to others.

The possibilities of carrying out this type of dynamics are quite high, since today the educational community is increasingly aware of this need.

Emotional intelligence generates benefits such as emotional self-regulation, better attention and empathy in the face of negative emotions or conflicts, and a good development of social and emotional competencies. Therefore, teachers should introduce these practices in the classroom, always keeping in mind the affective and social part in their teaching and learning work. Consequently, one of the great challenges to be achieved by the educational community lies in training educational professionals in emotional intelligence. By working on emotional education in all schools, students will be trained to be emotionally intelligent; that is, safer, kinder, and more empathetic people.

Author: Virginia Carrasco García

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