I’ve been hearing about schools that are beginning to offer teachers courses in social intelligence. This makes good sense. Social neuroscience makes clear that the emotional tone of a classroom can be set to a large extent by the teacher. This means that teachers are able to help students get and stay in better brain states for learning (see chapter 19 of Social Intelligence for details).
The neural wiring between our thinking and emotional centers, neuroscience tells us, means our feelings can either enhance or inhibit the brain’s ability to learn. And now the new field of social neuroscience has shown that while two people interact, their emotional centers impact each other, for better or for worse.
Taken together, these results have direct implications for creating educational approaches and social climates in schools that can boost students’ ability to learn. The best results come when students, teachers, and school leaders each take steps to become more emotionally self-aware and socially intelligent, as I argued in my article “The Socially Intelligent Leader,” in the September 2006, issue of Educational Leadership.
This could be best accomplished by creating training programs in social/emotional learning (or SEL) for teachers and school staff, like those now being offered for children (see CASEL.org for more info).
But I don’t know who is offering such programs, or where. If anyone knows of courses or programs for teachers in SEL, please let me know.