Attunement is the ability to ’tune in’ to your students needs and feelings, and then respond appropriately. It’s going a step further than empathising, which is the ability to share and understand other’s feelings. Being able to attune effectively will mean that your students feel like they are really seen by you, and taken care of. This is important, as according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, effective learning cannot take place until students feel like they are safe and connected.
Being able to attune to our students needs means that we also need to be able to improvise. Whilst it’s great to have a plan, it’s not always great to follow the plan if it’s not what your students need at the time. Always tune in to what your students are feeling and needing at the time, and keep altering your approach based on this.
Emotional intelligence will be one of the most sought after skills in the future of work. As technology and artificial intelligence (AI) advances, many of today’s jobs will no longer exist. However, AI will never be able to fully take over those occupations that rely on a high degree of emotional intelligence (such as nursing, counselling, and yes - teaching). Therefore, to future-proof your job as a teacher, you need to have high emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, monitor, regulate and control your own emotions. This requires us to have a good understanding of who we are on a deep level and to be self-aware. What are your values and beliefs? Does your behaviour/ actions match your values and beliefs? In what ways do your beliefs limit you? What do you stand for? What is most important to you? How do you react in certain situations? What triggers you? Why does it trigger you?
Once you have a deeper understanding of who you are, you can start becoming more aware of how you think and feel about certain things, and how things affect you. You start to understand that you control your responses and emotions, and that you can change your state of mind whenever it suits you.
This skill helps us so much in the every day life of teaching because you will find that less bothers you. You won’t take things personally and other people's actions or words will not affect you as much. This leads to less stress and a much calmer state of mind. You will be able to respond thoughtfully and intentionally, rather than have a 'knee-jerk' reaction.
When you have greater self-awareness and control over your own emotions, you can then model this for your students, and help them to develop this very important skill too. You will be able to read and understand their emotions on a deeper level, which will help you to relate and connect with them even more so.
Creativity is not just for the arts. Whilst the arts are very important, creativity is also about being able to make new connections between ideas or concepts, and creating new ideas or solutions.
In order to deal with the challenges that our future holds, our students will need to be able to ’think outside of the box’ in order to create innovative solutions. In order to help our students to develop this skill, it’s important that we are modelling it for them and providing opportunities to be creative as much as possible.
Approach teaching as a problem solving activity that requires creative solutions - for example, how can you make the curriculum more engaging? How can you help students make new connections and create new ideas? How can you help a particular student become more excited about learning?
Model the creative process at every opportunity - whenever you come up with a new idea for something or make a new connection, explain your thought processes to your students to make your thinking more visible, so that students can emulate it.
Over the last few decades, with the rise of the information age, teaching has moved away from the delivering of content, to the facilitation of learning. However, teachers need to be not only facilitators, but cultivators. What do I mean by this?
Psychologist Peter Benson delivered a fantastic TED talk called ’Spark’ - in it, he talks about the idea that every human being has a spark - by that he means something that lights them up and gets them excited about learning. He argues that people should be ‘known by their sparks’, and that the primary role of parents and teachers is to help students identify and cultivate (ie. nurture and help to grow) their sparks.
This requires us to be able to develop a deep understanding of each student and their unique strengths, interests and talents, and to encourage them to follow their passions, whatever that may be. It requires us to understand that every person’s spark is different and valid, and to cast no judgement over it.