Emotional intelligence attribute integral to student success
A leading attribute of the Westlake City School District’s Portrait of a Lifelong Learner, emotional intelligence is essential to every relationship we form and interaction we have in school, in our personal lives and at work. It is the ability to understand and manage our own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, navigate challenges and defuse conflict. The five foundational elements of emotional intelligence are empathy, self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation and social skills.
Empathy is the keystone of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others and truly consider how others are affected by our actions and the actions of others. Awareness of others’ feelings is vital, as is responding to and working through them even if we may not agree. We must work everyday to respect a variety of viewpoints and welcome diversity and inclusion efforts that will lead us all to a better understanding of each other.
Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our emotions and the reasons behind them and to appreciate how they affect others. It is about acknowledging our own strengths and weaknesses and remembering what values guide our decision-making in personal, academic and professional realms. Understanding our motivation is part of self-awareness as well. Being realistic about our motivators is about tapping into the things that truly drive us to improve and achieve and taking initiative to be our best selves and lift others up in good times and bad.
Self-regulation is a bundle of skills that allow us to effectively manage the emotions we have for our own health and for the benefit of those around us. It is the key to remaining in control of our emotions and thoughts and always treating others with respect. Examples of common self-regulation tools are deep breathing, exercise, writing and meditation, but every person learns what works best for them through trial and error, and different emotions can require different responses.
Social skills are learned over years of experience in school and in our personal lives. While some of us are born with gregarious personalities, for others becoming a people person comes with time and practice. We can all practice public speaking, active listening, and acknowledging and celebrating the strengths of others to bolster our social skills in ways that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
A model of emotional intelligence listens to others’ perspectives and experiences with empathy and curiosity, offering support when needed. They welcome critique in the name of growth and self-awareness, and they remain open to learning about their peers’ cultures, lifestyles and beliefs. They participate in the betterment of the community while always remaining attuned to the needs and feelings of others. This is my goal for every one of our students, and we work hard to ensure that there are support systems and mental health resources in place to help them achieve emotional intelligence and mental wellness.
Each one of us is at a different step in our journey toward emotional intelligence and wellbeing, and there is always more to learn. I invite each Westlake City Schools student to ask themselves: “What can I do today to further develop my sense of emotional intelligence and set myself up for success?"
Dr. Scott Goggin is the superintendent of Westlake City Schools. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.