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My class is driving me crazy!!

My class is driving me crazy!!

By Hadeel Al Kamli


As a student, I remember I have always enjoyed classes I had with confident teachers. Confidence gives a greater sense of calmness and approachability to teachers. The way confident teachers handled themselves and the way they interacted with students, made students less resistant, more motivated, and more interested in what the teacher had to say. Whereas, teachers who were loud, moody, and unapproachable appeared to be less confident. That lack of confidence led students to lose interest and respect towards the teacher that caused many unwanted behaviours in the class.

When I first started teaching, I learned, the hard way, that creating a fruitful positive classroom atmosphere is something that does not automatically occur. It needs to be consciously created by rigorous efforts, abundant focus, and systematic planning. As teachers, we learned that classroom management skills are one of the most important skills teachers must acquire and master to establish an effective teaching and learning environment. Classroom management is particularly important to ensure that students are engaged, attentive, and motivated. Which in turn will promote the learning process?

Teaching in itself is a very demanding profession in terms of planning and workload, not to mention, having to deal with the educational environment's social and emotional aspects. Issues like students' indiscipline and the relationship with colleagues, students, and parents can have a significant toll on teachers. Even though teachers often seek new strategies and activities to help them engage students and better manage classes, they often forget finding new ways to manage and understand their own emotions.

In my opinion, a big part of teachers' ability to manage their classrooms or any social setting relies on their Emotional Intelligence (EI). Considering EI is a combination of the terms emotion and intelligence, it can be defined as "the capacity that is based on the processing of emotional information which unites emotions with reasoning, allowing the use of emotions to facilitate and promote effective reasoning". [1] possessing such faculty means that one cannot only manage one's own emotions but also understand others', which is key to teachers' classroom management skills.

EI consists of five main components dealing with both personal and relational competences [2], each of which has a valuable effect on teachers' classroom management practices.

• Self-awareness Teachers who are aware of their emotions and motives have better judgments and as a result, better interact with stressful situations.

• Self-regulation When teachers have control over their emotions, they will consciously act and make sensible decisions instead of reacting and making unbalanced choices. Furthermore, they appear calmer, more self-contained, and more in control when faced with distress. Moreover, being able to self-regulate will help teachers to be more adaptive and resilient when facing challenges.

• Motivation Motivated teachers look at tasks and challenges as learning opportunities. They are always optimistic and positive, which reflects on the way they approach classroom-related issues.

• Empathy Accepting, respecting, and appreciating diversity when interacting with students will create a more inclusive classroom environment. Which will have a significant impact on students' engagement and performance. Additionally, teachers who can relate to students and their needs will be more successful in creating a less stressful learning experience.

• Social skills Teachers with good social skills can better manage conflict. In addition to that, they are better communicators, which is crucial in any social interaction. This will assist them in bonding with their students; which in turn makes teachers more influential and inspirational to students. In summary, developing a healthy learning atmosphere takes more than applying a set of strategies. Although they are essential as classroom management tools, the lack of emotional presence within the class deprives teachers from cultivating the results they want. In human interactions emotions hold a prestigious status. For that reason, we cannot build a strong base for our classroom management skills without forging a strong base of EI.

[1] Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is Emotional Intelligence?, Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (3–31). New York, NY: Basic Books. Salovey & Sluyter.