SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education discussed an emotional intelligence effort underway at the elementary and middle schools during its meeting Thursday.
School officials outlined the effort, which intends to help students and school staff understand and manage their emotions. The effort includes mood meters in classrooms and feedback from students and teachers on how they feel about themselves and each other.
Most board members expressed support for teaching students how to handle their feelings.
Bob Brown, a board member, said it’s an important effort and added that the nation’s current climate would be improved by more emotional intelligence.
“I think that is to a great extent the lack of emotional intelligence by a lot of people,” Brown said, adding that teaching students how to cope with life may be “even more important” than academics.
Patricia Queen, a board member, said the emotional intelligence effort was related to preventing school shootings caused by disenfranchised young people. She applauded district officials working to help students feel safe expressing their emotions.
“I feel we as a society have to do something differently,” Queen said. “Our students, our students nationally, are suffering in a very deadly way.”
The emotional intelligence effort is part of a three-year program. School officials said they want to add workshops for parents to reinforce the concept at home.
Joseph Baczewski, a board member, said emotional intelligence “used to be common sense. We’re teaching common sense now.”
While it was important to train children in empathy and resilience, Baszewski said addressing the mood of a few students shouldn’t derail education for an entire class.
Brian Goralski, board chairman, said the school district was “doing the work of a parent” with students but that emotional intelligence learning was correcting failings in society and necessary to continue education in other areas.
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