Being a teacher nowadays is not only about being knowledgeable about a topic. A good teacher has to be able to communicate with students and colleagues. This requires a great set of competences. In this training our participants learnt about what are known as “soft skills” that include emotional intelligence, empathy, leadership, team-work, public speaking and effective communication. This course allowed teachers to exchange roles and become students once again. By a combination of theoretical and practical activities they were able to get involved and exchange experiences and opinions.
At the beginning of the training they discussed their fears and expectations, trying to understand what they could bring to the table. Being able to confront each other made them realize how, even if they came from different countries, they shared the same feelings and struggles.
This is why the first soft skill they tackled was Emotional Intelligence. As teachers they have to be able to recognise not only their own feelings but also other people’s emotions, in order to be aware of themselves and their surroundings. To let go of their burdens one of the activities, suggested by one of the participants, was to metaphorically take those unnecessary negative feelings off their bodies and throw them in the middle of a circle. They reflected on strategies to overcome bad reactions to certain situations in real life, both personal and professional.
These concepts led them to discover how tricky it is to always show empathy, especially when we haven’t gone through the same experience as the other person.
A good teacher is also a good leader of the classroom. They have to give motivation and guide their students to reach a specific goal, while also being respected. First of all, the participants learnt about what it means to set a SMART goal for themselves, so that they can inspire others to reach their own. Leadership comes in different forms, but not all of them are effective when it comes to managing a classroom or being part of a group of coworkers. These particular situations require three specific skills: teamwork, effective communication and assertiveness. By sharing their own experiences it came out that one of the most difficult things to do is to say “no”. It was an important part of this training because they could see it was a shared issue. By discussing this topic they saw that being assertive when it comes to what you want does not mean to be impolite or aggressive, but it means to be respectful of yourself and others.
Since communication was one of the central topics, each one of them had to prepare a short speech to perform in front of the others. Speaking in front of a crowd can be challenging, but thanks to this activity they gained confidence and learnt some tips and tricks to deliver a speech effectively, using also their body language to create a connection with the audience.
Working with people in general can also lead to experiencing conflicts and unpleasant situations. The topics discussed in the previous days, in particular effective communication, self-awareness, empathy and emotional intelligence were essential in dealing with this last soft skill. Conflict management is a difficult task, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and create new connections. It is now always easy to respond in the right way when it comes to conflict, but the participants were given different examples of how there is an appropriate way for each situation. Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back for the greater good so as not to get stuck in a discussion that does not benefit anyone.
Thank you for being such a nice and participative group. It was a wonderful experience that allowed us to learn from each other. We hope that what you learnt in this training will help you with creating an even deeper connection to your students and colleagues!
Discover more about this course: Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence for teachers and education staff.