Dr. Faical Ben Khalifa on Emotional Intelligence Education and Awareness in Oman


The following is largely a paraphrase of an address given at  IMPROVING TEACHING QUALITY  1 : a SYMPOSIUM held at ROTANA RESORT, SALALAH, Oman on 10 April 2017. (The English Language Center at Salalah College of Technology, under the guidance of Mr. Saeed Al-Mashikhi, Head of the ELC and the Chairman of the Steering Committee, had  organized the symposium at Salalah Rotana Resort, entitled “Improving Teaching Quality 1”.)

Dr. Faical Hamadi Ben Khalifa, the Director of Foundation Programs at Dhofar University, spoke on the need for more awareness, training, and growth related to emotional intelligence in Oman’s curricula development and in Oman’ s practices in education at all levels in the country.

 

Paraphrased BY KEVIN A. STODA

We all have at least two parts of our brains functioning at all times: (1)  the thinking brain as well as (2) the emotional brain. In our mind there is a great link evidentbetween these two areas of brain functioning.

Emotions are typically instinctive.  Thus, the emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than does the thinking brain or thinking mind.  On the one hand, the “thinking mind” may be ‘thinking’ about emotions that are perceived while, on the other hand, feelings have already been acting out on this emotion and our connected thoughts at those same moments.

We educators–when in the classroom–are dealing with all kinds of individuals with their thinking and feeling components in action, too.   Students for example come in to any class with some sort of idea as to what their “best-teacher-ever was”–and sometimes we are being called on to emulate them.

One student might say that the best teacher must be interesting, encouraging, and knowledgeable.  Another student expects the teacher to be an expert, too, but also very patient, personable, and/or approachable. Still another student expects a teacher to be “exceptionally considerate” while at the same time that instructor must also be very inspiring.  Interestingly, most of these expectations from our students concerning the anticipated instructor are in the arena of emotions–i.e. much more more so than in the realm of thinking.

In short, emotional intelligence (EI) is neither a touchy-feely sort of awareness nor skill.  Nor is EI only a wise-thinking “appreciation of others emotions”. Emotional Intelligence is a sophisticated  awareness among a set of thinking skills which enable a learner and an instructor to navigate their world as actors in a variety of fields but usually in a more peaceful, objective but emotionally aware manner. [1]  In summary,  EI, thus,  enables people/students/teachers to navigate cultural and societal changes successfully as well as enabling people to move within other cultures (as well as in their own community in which they grew up).

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

(1) Emotional Intelligence is about managing ones own emotions.

(2) Emotional Intelligence is about establishing positive emotions between us and others.

Daniel Goleman originally identified five major components of Emotional Intelligience.

  1. Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  2. Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  3. Social skill – managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
  4. Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
  5. Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement

Self-Awareness, i.e.  in terms of Emotional Intelligence. means first to be aware of the emotions that reside in you.   It also means applying some emotional intelligence traits to form some sort of emotional literacy.  

What are our own emotional triggers?  What are the emotional triggers of the other?

In a basic way, emotions often fall under 5 categories as well:  (1) sad or sadness, (2) mad or upset, (3) glad or happiness, (4) fear or being scared, and (5) shame or regret.

Self-regulation follows awareness.  Sometimes, we teachers note, “Sometimes I get angry when students come late.” One should deal with this and any situation by answering the question:  How can I regulate this emotion (anger in this case)?

Naturally, motivation to manage this or any social relationship is needed.  Likewise, if we don’t expect change on anyone’s part (including our own part as well as on the part of others), we are not likely to see any change in the social-emotional situation. Once motivation is present, though, one can move on to managing or trying to managing the emotions/behaviors of others.

Empathy will be required.  One must be able to make observations or do some sort of research of the situation and of the other person(s) in order to understand the other person(s)  in the situation much better.  Once you have this information, you can put yourself emotionally into the other person’s or persons’ shoes.  Empathy becomes a key to growing ones emotional intelligence over time. It also enables groups to grow emotional intelligibility, too.  (Remember: “Don’t be sympathetic, but be empathetic.”)

Social relationships require empathy and motivational awareness.  We need this when building rapport with students or colleagues. We need proficiency in all elements of EI when we are aiming to improve our proficiency to obtain goals and to build networks of any kind.

Finding common ground will require revising our own paths to problem-solving and learning from others–as well as being creative within a particular set of contexts and actors.

In order to do this, we need to be open to honest and critical feedback from others.  Don’t be afraid to ask students or others:  “How am I doing?”  In order to get their honest reply, you need to warm up to them–and they up to you. (NOTE:  Don’t have a silo mentality?  That is, I DON”T CARE or I DON”T SHARE attitude or practices in place.)  You need to build openness to lead change effectively with others and within yourselves.

HOW DOES EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AFFECT CLASSROOM PERFORMANCE? 

Large scale SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) experiments show that both classroom well-being and academic performances are related. [2]  Students in SEL programs showed increased social and emotional skills as well as academic successes. [3]  SEL is also supportive of ecological systems theory and self-determination theories, i.e. as related to classroom and education.[4]

When our youth do not feel connected to the classroom, to the teacher, nor to the school, the results are catastrophic.  Struggling students show and anxiety and frustration, especially in testing situations..

We need to recognize that our brains are, indeed, wired to respond to (1) rewards and (2) threats.  Threats will lead to either fight or flight responses, especially in the short-term or near-term.

According to one popular or proto-psychological theory, dating back to Hippocrates, there are roughly 4 major personality types.

Knowledge and understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these personality types is claimed to help improve one’s own success in applying emotional intelligence-related skills with the right people and in the right settings.  It helps with advising and counseling as well as problem-solving for small and large firms and community groups. [Note: These four types are defined roughly in the same way by different researchers but are usually the same in practice. ] There are analyticals, amiables, expressive and drivers.

(1) The “analyticals”–these students need facts, fairly specific instruction assistance, work best alone, do not meet deadlines well, need specific praise–not general praise, understand only specific criticism or critiques, and specific questions or requests, like “What do you think went wrong?” or “Show me an alternative”.

(2) The “amiables”–usually do not know or do not have clarified goals, need more time to finish tasks, & need small dosages of information at a time to absorb more.

(3) The “expressive”–these are usually not focused, very bubbly, need reminders and repetitions, not the best with deadlines, work the best on teams, & enjoy regular praise.

(4) The “drivers”–normally very focused, good at meeting deadlines & work best on their own.

 

STRATEGIES OF BECOMING AN SEL TEACHER

Strategies of becoming an emotionally intelligent teacher and having an emotionally intelligent set of classroom relationships include:

(A)  Developing Self-Awareness: (1) Recognizing and understanding our own emotions, our drivers, and our triggers, (2) Comprehending what motivates you in different ways, (3) Knowing how to cool your anger and show modesty as needed, (4) Enhancing self-esteem, and most importantly, (5) Allowing yourself to change.

(B) Developing Self-Regulation: Enhancing your self-control of triggers and drivers that pique your emotions and drive behavior or thought, etc.

(C ) Developing Inner Motivation: (1) Setting clear attainable goals, (2) Learning anger management techniques that help you–and that eventually which you can pass on to others–, and (3) Being or manifesting yourself as more optimistic/ positive in and out of class.

(D) Developing Your Empathy: (1) Building rapport with students of different personality types, etc.,  (2) Creating a classroom that practices empathy, (3) Passing on empathetic skills to entire class by modeling and listening actively, and (4) Enhancing other EI skills among your students.

Finally, connect to learners by adopting and sharing your own metaphor, for example, concerning teaching, education, or the classroom  What is your philosophy?  Do you see yourself as a gardener?

In addition, you need to become more selective with words.  As well, try to accommodate different students with their different views with different metaphors about teaching and learning.  Avoid offending students. (Listen to them without interrupting.) [5]

 

NOTES

[1]  This creative cartoon provides a great narration relative to the discussion of emotional intelligence, knowledge and awareness.  Read the entire long cartoon or comic– and share it: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe  

[2] Akey, Theresa M., School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement: An Exploratory Analysis, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED489760

 The Prosocial Classroom: Teacher Social and Emotional Competence in Relation to Student and Classroom Outcomes, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/0034654308325693

[3]  ,   Conceptualization, Measurement, and Improvement of Classroom Processes: Standardized Observation Can Leverage Capacity, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/0013189X09332374

[4] Reinhard Pekrun, Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia (Eds.)   International Handbook of Emotions in Education. https://books.google.com.om/books

[5]   Price, Meg   5 Strategies For Incorporating Social Emotional Learning Into Your Classroom, http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/5-strategies-for-incorporating-social-emotional-learning-into-your-classroom/

 

 

 

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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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