George Lucas Educational Foundation
Administration & Leadership

Building Your Staff’s Emotional Intelligence

When teachers are in tune with their emotions and those of their colleagues, it’s easier to work collaboratively.

April 24, 2024
FatCamera / iStock

At the heart of every successful school are collaborative teams. However, when members of these teams display emotional intelligence (EQ) through an increased awareness of their emotions and the emotions or feelings of others, the groups are more productive. They allow educators to navigate their findings, their emotions, and their professional relationships so as to not hinder the work that needs to be done for the students. It creates a united vision and mission with an increased positive effect on school culture and community. Its impact drives positive student learning outcomes and increased parental and staff awareness on the components that drive and impact the entire school community.

In essence, collaborative teams with an increased amount of EQ create professional growth and productivity. Within education, emotional intelligence is embedded with social and emotional learning under the CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) framework, which breaks it into five competencies:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Decision-making

A report on teacher preparation and SEL found that “[t]eachers’ own SEL competence and well-being plays a critical role in influencing the infusion of SEL into classrooms and schools.”

With this being said, it’s very important to have EQ embedded in multiple aspects of a school community for individual and team growth. There should be a strong focus on collaboration and reflection for both productivity and managing emotions to ensure that the work gets done effectively. The following are some strategies to utilize in order to increase the emotional intelligence among staff members within teams.

5 Ways to Boost Your Staff’s EQ

1. Hold literature circles. Emotional intelligence is something that typically isn’t directly addressed in teacher preparation programs. However, developing strong EQ skills improves not only your professional practices but your interpersonal relationships as well.

EQ at the workplace can drive strong collaborative teams to build the best student learning outcomes. Make time for teachers to examine their own emotional skills, build on the strength of others, and develop ways to grow as a team to collaborate through an EQ lens. These meetings can be literature circles centered around reflection and discussion. Having educators do this under a protocol will be the best way to eliminate off-topic conversations or responses based solely on strong feelings in the moment.

2. Conduct small group coaching on active listening. Active listening is a very important component of building relationships among all stakeholders within a community. Coaching small groups allows for intimate relationships to be formed among teammates. It’s a great way to have members practice in a small group setting while developing community norms to build trust and transparency.

3. Use conversation protocols. Protocols such as glow and grow and 3, 2, 1 are a great way to help guide conversations. They allow time for introverts to process and communicate while having extroverts monitor how much talk time they have and practice letting others take the floor. Protocols can help teammates build permanent practice on how meetings and conversations are held, driving productivity.

4. Hold reflective discussions about individual and team practices. Reflection is one of the most powerful characteristics addressed within the CASEL framework. It allows for self-reflection and reflecting on the emotions and feelings of others in relation to your actions and feelings. Reflective conversations allow team members to discuss their strengths and areas of growth. It allows for all to take accountability and ownership in their part to play in the development of the team and productivity.

5. Conduct surveys about thoughts on EQ and the best way to receive feedback and communicate frustrations. Developing one’s emotional intelligence can take time. Having an entire school community take part in this deeply personal work can invoke plenty of strong feelings. Therefore, it’s extremely important to consider the different behavior styles of staff members. Not all members will be direct in communication. That's why surveys that are administered and designed by community members are so important. This process allows staff to receive feedback and communicate their frustrations. It also allows movement and consideration on behalf of all stakeholders.

Emotional intelligence within schools is at the heart of the interconnectedness of the heart and mind. As educational therapist Anna T. McDonald says, “Having a high EQ enables us to handle the challenges we might encounter. In times of crisis, having this type of intelligence allows us to think rationally and temper our emotions with patience and understanding. We think before we act, practice good decision-making, and foster positive interpersonal relationships.” All of these practices are at the core of why we educate children, so they too may become resilient, empathetic, and emotionally aware citizens of their communities, building relationships and productivity no matter the task or role they play in society.

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Administration & Leadership
  • School Culture
  • Teacher Collaboration

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edutopia is a free source of information, inspiration, and practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education. We are published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.