In the last week of July together with teachers coming from 7 different countries we've explored the world of soft skills and emotional intelligence. It was an intese and interesting journey that enabled participants (and trainers) to discuss about how to capture the attention of the audience/class, how to understand the emotions of the students, how to lead a group, how to manage conflict and how to the students to develop emotional intelligence and soft skills.
During the course we had the chance to explore many of the most important soft skills from communication and public speaking to leadership, from conflict management to emotional intelligence and empathy. Our journey started from analysing the most important principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and discussing the importance of going out of our comfort zone. For this reason, we challenged the participants to write down three negative beliefs that had somehow limited their life and to discuss one of them with a random person in the group. In this way, the participants saw how the comparison with another person allows to identify new strategies to overcome a problem or, in another way, to build together a new, more constructive belief. In fact, communicating a difficulty or an obstacle is the first step in identifying strategies to overcome it.
Another topic that was analysed during the training days was how to lead a classroom and a team. To the question "is there one leadership style better than another"? together we found the answer: “No!”
Each leadership style is more or less suitable for different types of situations. Therefore, the participants challenged each other to associate leadership styles with different situations, discovering that each context requires different leadership skills.
Participants had the chance to discuss and practice the differences between aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive communication, getting acquainted with the principles of the latter. The participants created a vademecum with the main verbal features of each communication styles (aggressive, passive and assertive), in order to be able to use this tool in the classroom to define the communication guidelines.
Furthermore, one of the aims of the training was to recognize the different communication channels (verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal) and to be able to manage them productively. Communication is not only about what we say, but also how we say it. To further work on this topic and on improving public speaking skills the participants delivered a 2-minutes public speech that was analysed by the whole group with the support of the trainer. This activity was highly appreciated since gave the participants the possibility to receive personalised feedback from both the other teachers and especially the trainer.
Lastly, an important issue is conflict management. Through brainstorming, groups of participants tried to identify which kind of words and phrases encourage conflict and, on the other side, which kind of words promote communication and cooperation within a group.In fact, being aware of the consequences of “positive” and “negative” words is the first step in resolving and mediating a conflict, a soft skill that is very important for working with groups of people. Finally, thanks to an education-based role-play simulation the participants had the chance to feel on their skin the different challenges that conflict are posing in education.
To improve emotional intelligence, the teachers were also challenged to associate correct emotions with different kinds of behaviors, in order to train their ability to be aware of their own and others' emotions.
Of course, there was no lack of cultural activities! The artistic and colorful landscapes of Palermo, Cefalù and Monreale enriched the afternoons of the week, allowing participants to get to know each other, to network and to build a multicultural team!