Teachers’ perceptions and practices regarding improving elementary students’ emotional intelligence skills
The purpose of the current study was to determine elementary school teachers’ perceptions and practices regarding the improvement of elementary school students’ intrapersonal and interpersonal emotional intelligence skills. The study also aimed to identify teachers’ current methods of instruction for improving students’ emotional intelligence as well as any issues that hinder teachers from improving students’ emotional intelligence. 170 elementary school teachers in 18 schools within Cowichan Valley School District #79 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada were sent a mixed-method survey by mail to complete (Appendix A). The surveys were distributed in early October 2012 and returned by the end of October 2012. 87 out of a possible 170 surveys were collected from elementary teachers in Cowichan Valley School District #79 indicating a 51% return rate. Data collected indicated that teachers felt it is the responsibility of parents to teach emotional intelligence skills to their own children. Despite this belief, and lack of parental support for their efforts, teachers said that they spent a significant part of their school day attending to many students’ emotional needs. Teachers felt it was now part of their job to teach students intrapersonal and interpersonal emotional intelligence (EI) skills. Teachers in this study were not unanimous in their perceptions that EI skills are more important than academic skills for successful learning. 55% of the teachers felt EI skills were more important than academic skills for successful learning. 45% of the teachers were undecided or disagreed that EI skills were more important than academic skills for successful learning. Teachers also varied in their opinions regarding the role of counsellors in the facilitation of their students’ emotional needs. Lack of counsellor support was one of many issues expressed by teachers as hindering the improvement of students’ EI skills (Table 4.4). Other teacher, school, and student related issues hindering the improvement of students’ EI skills included: lack of time to teach EI skills, lack of proper teacher training, classroom sizes and compositions, family situations such as poverty, and poor parenting skills. Data indicated that school-wide conflict resolution programs such as the Marvin Marshall Program, were the most popular social and emotional learning (SEL) methods used by participants to teach EI skills to students. As well, teachers used a variety of emotion processing methods for the instruction of improving students’ emotional intelligence within their own classrooms (Appendix E). Approximately 70% of teachers surveyed felt that the British Columbia Social Responsibility Rubrics should include the statement: “Students display both intrapersonal and interpersonal emotional intelligence skills.” At the present time, the B.C. Social Responsibility Rubrics focus on students’ interpersonal EI skills. Intrapersonal EI skills, the pre-requisite to interpersonal skills, are excluded in the B.C. Rubrics.