Perceiving Emotions, Facilitating Thought, and Promoting Growth: Using Emotional Intelligence as an Effective Teaching Technique in the Freshman Composition Classroom
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One of the key issues in teaching writing to students in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is that they come from diverse high school contexts. Some students have never been formally taught in English, and even those who were have very limited experiences because they learned English as a subject rather than as a mode of communication across the high school curriculum. Students also have individual learning styles, different personalities, and a myriad of learning disabilities that can make the rite of passage from being a high school student to a university scholar a nightmare experience, especially at the freshman level. This is where a teacher's level of emotional intelligence (EI) becomes the key element to resolve any problems students will face when transitioning to university students. Research suggests that students favor classrooms where the EI of the teachers is perceived as high. The purpose of this survey-driven research is three-fold: to briefly discuss the factors that complicate the teaching of writing in the MENA region; to describe, through action research, how emotional intelligence helps bridge the learning gap; and to understand, from the teacher and student's perspective, how emotional intelligence influences classroom effectiveness and chart its benefits from a pedagogical perspective. Teachers' emotional intelligence should not be overlooked as an important component for student learning, and should be promoted as a skill that needs to be developed for maximum teacher effectiveness.