top of page


Teach Better | 3 Steps Educators can Take to Better Manage Their Emotions

his original post can be accessed via Teach Better Team on this link and on Medium.

In This Post:

A background on emotional intelligence, EQ. Research on emotional regulation. Suggestions to improve social emotional learning, both of yourself and students.

For schools looking to expand emotions management to all students in their school community, my new book Raising Equity through SEL shows educators exactly how to accomplish that.

Being an ever-evolving educator, I am continually looking for ways to improve my practice. Both for helping students and also those closest to me. Almost a year ago (March 2019), I read an article by Travis Bradberry on mastering first impressions. I was impressed with his insight and understanding of human psychology.

The article provided quick tips for showing up better in my interactions with others. It also pointed me to the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, which Travis co-authored with Jean Greaves.

Before that moment, I hadn’t heard of emotional intelligence (EQ) or even knew that it existed (although it was introduced to the masses in 1995 by Daniel Goleman).

Let’s just say that this knowledge gap stalled progress in some of my interpersonal relationships, namely with my two children and some colleagues.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know that until I read the book and took the emotional intelligence test — the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal.

The EQ Test

The test has parts, and scores are based on a comparison to the general population. It focuses on the four parts of the EQ model dealing with personal competence and social competence.

These four parts are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.


I found my EQ test results extremely helpful. My scores were automatically tallied for me and were accompanied by actionable recommendations customized to fit my unique profile.

Furthermore, I love that the authors conducted research involving more than 500,000 participants to discover how they use and manage EQ, as well as its impact on their lives.

This decade of research showed many interesting and relevant findings. There were a few points that stood out most to me in the EQ 2.0 Fact Sheet.

The first was that 70% of people do not handle conflict or stress effectively. The second was that only 36% of us understand emotions as they happen. This is amplified in the workplace, where a mere 15% of people feel respected and valued by their employers.

The results from the study and my own EQ scores helped me understand that there was work I needed to do to keep my emotions in check, while also helping my students to do the same.

Luckily, a current trend in education is for teachers to be more intentional about the social and emotional learning (SEL) of students. So this type of conversation and associated practices are becoming easier to implement. And although it’s not always easy to learn new tricks (especially when we’ve had a lifetime of practice doing things in a certain manner), here’s how to start in three steps.

Step 1: Understand Emotions

Psychology tells us that emotion is a complex state of feeling that impacts both physical and psychological changes in people. This, in turn, influences their thoughts and behavior.

I previously did not understand the power of my own emotions, their impact on my overall well-being, or how they impacted my social interactions with others.

This knowledge gap caused me to avoid ownership with some of my previous behavior. I also did not acknowledge how I was showing up emotionally, for both myself and others.

If this sounds familiar, don’t beat yourself up. Emotions are not always easy to comprehend or catch in real-time.  And luckily, we have experts (psychologists) to help us begin to make better sense of it all.

In psychology, there are several theories of emotion which are often categorized as physiological, neurological, and cognitive.

They include the following:

  1. Cognitive Appraisal Theory

  2. Evolutionary Theory of Emotion

  3. Facial-Feedback Theory of Emotion

  4. Schachter-Singer Theory

  5. The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

  6. The James-Lange Theory of Emotion

There is a lot to dive into here. But research in the field of SEL and readily available educational materials can help make a lot of this actionable in today’s schools.

Here are some excellent resources for educators to consider:

Step 2: Recognize Your Emotions