For those who don’t know, I teach 3rd grade at a title 1, low-income, at-risk school. I have only taught at or been affiliated with at-risk schools (commonly known, in the teaching world, as “Schools with Promise”). I have nothing against the well-to-do in regards to their children (well, maybe I have some issues…), however, I feel I can make the most impact where the students I teach are not as privileged as the rest.
My teaching philosophy (ugh, that very phrase causes ripples of anxiety through my body, as it recalls the hours I spent not sleeping to finish my paper on that topic) or angle, for the layperson, is strongly rooted in social emotional intelligence. A new push to empasize this part of our students’ development is well-founded and well-researched. I could quote the book Emotional Intelligence-Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Coleman, but I have yet to find the time to crack it open (it’s on my never-ending to-do list). Without even reading Coleman’s book, I can undoubtedly say he is right. I haven’t even taught for a solid two years, and I know he’s right. I know he’s right, because I can attest to the fact that being emotionally intelligent can take you further than knowing what started the Crimean Wars or the steps of mitosis. These facts are important to know if you plan on teaching history, or you plan on artificially inseminating someone. Knowing all of the battles that led up to the end of WWII, while worth knowing if you’re a regular pub quiz attendee, does not qualify you for a job at Microsoft or as a heart surgeon. Do I think knowing history is important? Shit yes. Our past and the events that shaped our world are imperative to understand if we want to better understand our present and future. These topics, the important reasons and the why’s of history, can be taught in a deeper, contextualized way that doesn’t require rote memorization of facts. I’m off on a tangent.
What gets you the job at 7-11, Google, the Mayo Clinic, or wherever your heart desires is most certainly knowledge of the content you will be working with. If you plan on removing my gallbladder, I would expect you to know the difference between a gallbladder and a spleen. But, what gets you the job? What gets you through the sweat-inducing interview? What helps you maintain positive relationships with those you work with? Being emotionally intelligent gets you the job you want and helps you keep it. It also helps you maintain healthy relationships in your personal life, promotes positive self-esteem, and helps you to better articulate your emotions for success in all areas of life.
As I learn more, or even make time to read Coleman’s book, I will post about my journey with social emotional learning.