Social and emotional learning

‘Have you ever shouted at your child and then regretted it? Sometimes we behave in a way that we don’t like,’ says Kornélia Lohyňová, teacher of Management at Hotel Academy in Bratislava, Slovakia. All of that is connected to emotional intelligence. Even adults don’t understand their emotions in certain circumstances. So, what about young people?

Just before the winter break, participants from around Europe who attended the EntreCompEdu Café organised by EntreComp Europe had the pleasure of hearing Kornélia’s captivating experience and knowledge of social and emotional learning applied to the classroom.

Recognising your emotions

Kornélia believes it is essential to recognise our emotions, be aware of our thoughts, and understand how they are connected. That is, be self-aware of our feelings. We can decide on the matter; we can influence them by determining how long they last and how strong they are. And for that, setting goals and managing our stress levels are the best practices.

In school, students need to feel safe and confident. The first step is to build a space of trust where young people feel free to talk and share their thoughts. Kornélia shared a handful of activities that she organises to ensure that her students feel confident. Here are some ideas:

  • A quiz with simple questions to understand their mood and mind space
  • A reflective journal to write about their emotions, thoughts and reactions
  • Character strengths through personal analysis, finding their strength using a quiz

Once the students have identified their emotions, they will be fully aware of the moment, of their thoughts, feelings and actions. It is important to accept what is going on without judgment in the classroom. Kornélia highlights the importance of mindfulness.

EntreCompEdu Café is the perfect example of that, as Kornélia mentioned herself ‘We enjoy the moment while drinking coffee or tea and watching the Café Sessions’, we should appreciate it because we often ‘let good moments pass without attention, without even noticing it’. Mindfulness is easy to practice, and any activity can be turned into one. For example:

  • Breathing exercise using the hand to control inhaling and exhaling
  • Body scanning, a brief meditation to relax your body and mind
  • Mindful eating, bringing full attention to your mental state, feelings and physical sensations

The dangers of stress

There are some circumstances and moments that can impact our state of mind. Stress can be one of the biggest threats that can negatively impact us. At the same time, a certain amount can have a positive effect, and it can also be stimulative. But it is essential to know how to recognise it. In the classroom, says Kornélia, students can lose concentration if they are stressed, so it is important to work on activities that help children manage their feelings. In the following table, Kornélia shares some exercises she organises in her classroom.

We don’t feel empathy when we are stressed. And because empathy is the foundation for good communication, teamwork and strong leadership, it is essential to focus on it in the classroom. When students feel that they are in a safe environment and they can express whatever they are feeling, then we can start focusing on empathy. ‘I will ask them how they want to feel in the classroom,’ says Kornélia, and then she usually carries out some activities to make her students share their thoughts, such as a kindness game, reading stories of people from different backgrounds, debating, or working on a reflective journal.

One of Kornélia’s favourite practices is The Scarf Model, developed by David Rock. It stands for five key domains – Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness – that influence our behaviour in social situations. It is a model based on neuroscience research and one that she likes to apply in her classroom. “‘I teach my students to hold an invisible scarf’, and from there, explains Kornélia, ‘we work on learning how to solve problems, on how to communicate.’

Kornélia finished the Café session by sharing one of the challenges she faces in her classroom: applying non-violent communications. A method developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg which focuses on interacting with ourselves and others with compassion. ‘It is not easy to practice it, so I am taking a course to understand how to implement it’.

Through the activities and sharing active learning methods, students will become competent, and they will be able to make a difference. ‘Students need to feel that they are valuable members of a community’, and that is what is essential for Kornélia. Because that way, ‘they will express joy for learning, they will be happy to learn more, and they will develop as a person. And only that way they will make a difference in the world.’

How is social end emotional learning linked to entrepreneurship?

By enabling students to appreciate the emotional intelligence and focus on their social skills and awareness for those around them, teachers and educators can foster a growth mindset in their learners which instils self-confidence. The activities and skills they can develop shared by Kornélia during her talk link to various areas of the EntreComp framework such as: Self-awareness and self-efficacy, Motivation and perseverance, Working with others, Coping with uncertainty ambiguity and risk and Valuing ideas. You can discover more in depth about the framework by taking a look at EntreComp: A practical guide, developed by the EntreComp Europe project to help get results from active use and application of entrepreneurial competences.

If you missed EntreCompEdu Café with Kornélia, or would like to experience it again, check out the video below. You can also view and download the accompanying presentation. We hope you can join us soon for another EntreComp Europe event.

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