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Times Tables + Emotion Coaching

These observations came from a reflective log that was recently shared with us. The names have been changed for the purpose of this blog.

When we think about implementing Emotion Coaching tools, sometimes it feels that the process will take a great deal of effort and time – particularly in a high-pressure situation in the classroom when there are multiple demands on us.

With practise, Emotion Coaching becomes second nature. The following reflection is a great example of how quickly Emotion Coaching can work.

The class was instructed by the teacher to practise their times tables for the end of year 4 tests.

Maeve, a teaching assistant, was focusing on one child, when she noticed another child, Raza, getting very agitated. He was rushing to complete the answers in time and was getting most of them wrong. Raza was close to tears.

Checking in with herself, Maeve noticed she was feeling angry at the situation imposed on children, as well as care and concern for Raza. She also felt calm, knowing she could help him.

Maeve thought Raza was probably experiencing fear and anxiety about getting the questions wrong, as well as a sense of hopelessness.

When Maeve checked in with Raza, saying ‘that looks quite frustrating’, he was very forthcoming. She reflected back to Raza a few times and referred to the instruction the teacher had given about doing the untimed questions first.

Maeve then helped Raza to problem solve, working out how many more months he had to practise the questions and get skilled at doing them quickly.

Raza then practised the untimed test and got all the questions right. When Maeve commented that most adults wouldn’t be as quick as him, they laughed together, and the situation was completely diffused.

By using the steps of attunement, empathy, labelling emotion…then problem solving, Maeve found that Raza calmed very quickly and was able to problem solve effectively.

Maeve reflected that she had to contain her own thoughts and feelings about children are being asked to do – by the government, and by the teacher. She felt that checking in with herself was definitely a priority, so she was free to listen to Raza’s concerns without judgment – particularly as she had a strong urge to dismiss the whole task (the timed testing) as ridiculous!

Maeve noted that the whole interaction happened in 2 – 3 minutes.

The main learning for Maeve – and us – was that Emotion Coaching doesn’t need to take a long time, and in this case was extremely quick and effective.

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