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Emotional Intelligence – Part3

Have you ever regretted acting before thinking? I sure have.

Without question, teaching makes demands on our emotions.  Managing a group of students all day long, five days a week, many of whom have behavioral challenges, can make a teacher’s job a difficult one.

Those in our profession are expected to be calm and controlled, even in stressful situations. It’s a goal we all strive to meet, but I have to be honest when I say I’m not always perfect at doing so, especially at the end of “one of those days” in the classroom when challenging students seem to have pressed on my very last nerve.  I’m not proud of these moments!

 What is self-regulation?

Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s emotions and desires as they are expressed in one’s behavior. It includes the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check and to think before acting. In the classroom, self-regulation serves to maintain control during pressurized scenarios.

Why is self-regulation important for teachers?

A self-regulated teacher can manage how she/he reacts. We function at our best when we know how to self-regulate. The more we practice thinking and behaving positively, the better we can create a positive learning environment for our students.

As teachers, we often face situations in which we feel angry, frustrated, or even disgusted. Let’s heal these negative emotions and create supportive learning environments devoid of destructive influences.

How can we improve self-regulation?

During these unprecedented times, are you stressed? Try these following three techniques for developing self-regulation skills:

  1. Monitor how you are feeling. Try to understand why you are feeling this way, and don’t let your emotions rule over you.  When intense positive or negative emotions arise, don’t shout, yell, cry, or say things that might hurt your students or damage your professional identity.  Be firm with students when it’s necessary, making sure to avoid using an angry tone of voice.  It only escalates conflicts with students, and it leaves you feeling stressed or burned out.
  2. Equip yourself. Keep accurate notes on each students’ emotional, physical, and cognitive needs. Anticipate what “could” happen and decide in advance what “could be done” in that situation. We call this “coping proactively.” Don’t wait until problems occur, but think about your students, how they could behave, and prepare yourself to deal with those situations.
  3. Continue reflecting. Regularly reflect on emotion-provoking stimuli that arise in your classroom. Document accordingly how you have responded with each student. While reflecting, be aware of the emotions you experienced in a particular situation, and consider how you could develop a more effective teaching strategy.

Emotions are central to our identity as teachers. However, when they are not managed and controlled appropriately, they can interfere with the learning environment.

What happens when teachers self-regulate?

When teachers learn to recognize and respond to their emotions in class, they model for students how to engage in the process themselves.  And “being able to teach children how to manage their emotions is actually a very important pathway to intellectual learning.  Because if you can’t manage your feelings, it’s hard to open up your brain to be able to receive the content that you’re trying to learn” (Linda Darling-Hammond, 2019).

We learn by watching others.  When students see us modeling how we recognize and deal with our emotions in productive ways, they learn how to manage their own emotions.

Three remaining characteristics of EI are: motivation, empathy, and relationship management.  Stay tuned for our next blog where we share how to use the emotional intelligence characteristics of motivation to enhance our teaching practices and serve our students by creating the optimal learning environment.

Are self-awareness and self-regulation integral parts of your lesson plans?

“Self-regulation is a better indicator of success than intelligence or talent.” Laurence D. Steinberg


Darling-Hammond, L.  (2019).  Teaching self-regulation by modeling.  Retrieved from Edutopia

Robin LaBarbera

Robin LaBarbera is an experienced educator, researcher, author, and international speaker. Dr. LaBarbera is the Founder and President of LaBarbera Learning Solutions, a consulting firm
focused on empowering leaders and their teams to harness the power of emotional intelligence to maximize personal and professional success. Before devoting her work fulltime to LaBarbera Learning Solutions, Dr. LaBarbera served for over 15 years as a professor of special education, where she earned the esteemed title of Faculty Emerita from Biola University, and she authored the textbook Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Partnering with Families for Positive Outcomes. Robin is a lifelong learner, with two Bachelor’s Degrees, two Master’s Degrees, and two Doctoral Degrees (a PhD and a DSW). She is an enthusiastic cyclist, runner, and Gigi to two grandchildren.

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