Educator Teams Have Their Own Emotional Intelligence. Here’s Why It Matters!

By Beth Thompson
School Improvement Specialist
Blount County Schools

Are the teams you partner with innovative and thriving, or unimaginative and withering? Even when we cultivate a team of our most diligent practitioners, it doesn’t guarantee a bounty of results.

You’ve probably heard about emotional intelligence (EI)—the ability to recognize when you’re experiencing emotions, to have strategies for managing them, and to recognize other people’s emotions and respond appropriately to them. A team leader’s EI is extremely important, but there’s also such a thing as a group’s collective emotional intelligence. And this, according to researchers, is what sets high-functioning teams apart from average ones.

— Professional coaching consultant Elena Aguilar, writing for Edutopia.

In her article, Elena Aguilar helps us identify team qualities we want to nourish and those we must prune. Becoming more intentional about growing a team’s Emotional Intelligence supports us in the important work of teaching and learning.

I find it doesn’t matter if I am serving as the facilitator, a coach, or a practitioner – each team I work with has unique Emotional Intelligence. That dynamic can change from one meeting to the next within the same group and each team member!

It only takes a small act by one person to derail an otherwise fabulous work session. A petty comment, an eye roll, a blatant disregard of someone’s work, or a lack of engagement by just one member can affect our productivity and how we feel about teamwork.

If I am particularly honest, I can name times when I neglected my responsibility and contributed to a less than a desirable partnership with my peers – even by just regularly checking my phone or letting my attention wander.

Reflecting on a topic as important as Emotional Intelligence is crucial! It grows our practice. I can smile knowing that while at times we may go astray, my teammates and I cultivate each other’s ideas. Together, we blossom with a grandeur we could never reach as individuals. Your teams can, too.

Read Elena Aguilar’s article “The Key to Effective Teams in Schools: Emotional Intelligence” for more insights!

Dr. Beth Thompson is School Improvement Specialist for Blount County Public Schools in Oneonta, AL. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Alabama.