Working in Independent Schools provides access to top professionals across many fields of study. The professional development given to educators includes cutting-edge ideas. On many occasions, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to the thought leader who generated the new conceptual framework, which was as much humbling as it was illuminating. That has been the most significant benefit of being part of this international network. Yet, through the years, only a few ideas have had lasting power. One of those ideas is that the most successful and influential people possess this quality: emotional intelligence.
Emotions contain information that needs to be recognized and understood to inform decision-making and reasoning. This decision-making includes categorizing big and small problems and deciding in which order they will be solved. The tool we use to help students identify their emotions in the moment is the Mood Meter. The mood meter allows students to use vocabulary to describe their emotions and understand the consequence of those emotions. From there, children develop a toolkit of behaviors and strategies that include consciously recognizing those feelings as they occur and healthy steps to employ when having those emotions. The mood meter is most helpful when discussing unexpected behaviors with students. Often, children are missing the context for exhibited behaviors outside of community norms and expectations and feel down on themselves. However, by introducing the mood meter practice, children develop language to deconstruct the emotions associated with the actions, conceptually expand the experience beyond the acting out, and understand the context for their behavior. Actively acknowledging emotion allows reasoning to take place. These exercises reinforce to children that when they are feeling particular emotions, they make mistakes but are within their power to change outcomes. The context releases them from feelings of shame because they have agency in instituting a plan for moving forward. Also, they enlist adults in their toolkits, reestablishing relationships and reintroducing that adults are resources to them.
This practice has lifelong implications. As Brookwood students become adept at understanding and modulating their emotions, they use reason to determine the appropriate response. This builds confidence and deeper social-emotional connections. Moreover, as they grow, children make meaning of their interactions differently, engaging in trusting partnerships with educators and leadership others would unknowingly deem inaccessible. An example that comes to mind is the relationship between a pupil and college professors and, eventually, an employee and the leadership of the company in which they. If one has experienced adults as partners and resources, then they create bridges with people others view as authority figures.
Below are more resources to better understand this practice, including a link to the Mood Meter App.
Mood Meter Chart - This mood meter uses adult vocabulary. We have developmentally appropriate mood meters for all LS grades.
Emotional Agility - Harvard Business Review