Soft skills are nowadays becoming more and more important in the context of professional and daily life. Skills such as emotional intelligence and empathy, teamwork, and conflict and stress management are essential inside and outside the classroom. By a combination of theoretical and practical activities, our participants learned more about ways to improve their communication skills.
The new edition of the course “Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence for Teachers and education staff” took place in Bologna from 23/04/2023 to 28/04/2023. The participants came from all across Europe, with Emilee and Kathleen from St. Benedict's College in Malta; Mihaela, Felicia, Camelia, and Isabela from Liceul Teoretic Petra Cercel in Romania; Pelin from Gebze Technical University in Turkey; Marika from Omnia in Finland; and Rosanna from the Institut Escola del Treball in Spain. Participants gained unique insight into the differences in similarities in education practices across different regions and discussed ways to navigate specific challenges present in work with their own diverse experiences.
The first topic discussed in the course was Emotional Intelligence—the ability to recognise not only our own feelings but also the feelings of others. Emotional intelligence allows us to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings, practise empathy, and better navigate emotional situations. Through a series of exercises, the participants were able to learn more about empathic responses, self-control, self-motivation, and building a connection. Finally, what was highlighted was that there is no optimal method of offering emotional support in all situations. What is most appropriate depends on the context, and maintaining an open line of communication will guide you to the most supportive action.
A good teacher is also a good leader of the classroom because they have to motivate and guide their students to reach a specific goal. Leadership comes in different forms, but not all of them are effective in every situation. For this reason, participants were asked to think about the main characteristics of the leaders they admire and reflected on the different leadership styles.
One of the most important skills for working in a team is Effective Communication. The participants focused their attention on the different communication styles: aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive. Communication is essential when it comes to teamwork. Being able to demonstrate assertiveness can be tricky. However, by discussing this topic, they found that being assertive does not mean being impolite: it means communicating what you want effectively and giving the other person the chance to respond with all the cards on the table.
In order to improve their communication skills, participants prepared an exercise on Public Speaking. They learned tips and tricks on how to present themselves, control their body language, and utilize nonverbal communication effectively. To put these skills into practice, participants prepared a short one-minute speech to present to the class and received feedback.
The last topic of this course was Conflict and Stress Management. Working with people can be difficult, and we do not always know how to deal with conflicts. By sharing their own experiences, participants realised how these are common situations and that conflict doesn’t always bring negative outcomes: it can present possibilities for growth and development.
Further opportunities for networking and connection were facilitated through planned cultural activities in the form of day trips, tours, and trying delicious Italian food. These were valuable moments where cultural exchange and mutual enrichment occurred, showing that learning does not happen only inside a classroom!
This course allowed participants to confront themselves with each other and learn from their shared experiences. Each participant had a different background that allowed for unique perspectives that contributed to the growth of the group as a whole. While from different backgrounds, all participants of the course had a shared interest in enriching their skills in emotional intelligence and in fostering safe environments in their professions. The conversations and discoveries shared will no doubt stay with us! We hope to see you again soon!
Welcome to the ELA Blog. Here you will find articles and photos of our courses and have a look at the topics addressed during the week in Bologna, Palermo and Tenerife. You will also have the chance to take a peek at our projects and check out what we have been up to.