Amidst the ongoing employment crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the phenomenon known as the 'Great Resignation,' early childhood education faces unprecedented challenges. This blog post explores the concept of Emotional Fitness as a necessary competency for educational leaders and its correlation with educational quality and employee engagement.
Unions have been warning for some years that teacher shortages are dire, from early childhood education right through to Year 12. With a surge in resignations and a decline in employee engagement, educational leaders are confronted with the urgency to adapt and innovate. A growing body of research indicates the salient role of educators' emotional well-being in influencing educational quality (Johnson et al., 2019). One emerging area that holds promise is the emotional fitness movement being popularised by leaders in this field, such as Susan David, author of Emotional Agility and Joe Pane, through his Emotional Fitness Formula Program.
"Emotional fitness isn't just a buzzword; it's the keystone in the arch of our ability to adapt and thrive amidst ongoing uncertainty.” Sarah Moore
Navigating Uncertainty: The Emotional Toll and Contagion
"Emotions are contagious. We've all known it experientially—you can catch the mood of your spouse, your colleague, your client, or your child before you realise what's happened" (Goleman, 1998). This phenomenon, known as Emotional Contagion, has been substantiated through various scientific studies (Hatfield et al., 2014). The ripple effect of educators' emotional states on their students makes the case for prioritising Emotional Fitness within educational institutions even more compelling.
"The emotional atmosphere adults create isn't confined to their own lives; it's the air children breathe in. Being self-aware isn't just for our well-being; it's for theirs too, shaping their emotional landscapes in untold ways." Sarah Moore
In an era marked by unparalleled challenges, from pandemic-related disruptions to sweeping social changes, educational leaders and their teams have had to adapt rapidly. This constant state of flux has produced high levels of uncertainty, exacerbating stress and emotional turmoil among educators.
The mental and emotional strain has implications far beyond the individual, particularly due to emotional contagion—the psychological phenomenon where emotions and related behaviours spread quickly among individuals. Given that classrooms often serve as tightly knit emotional ecosystems, educators' well-being—or the lack thereof—can inadvertently affect the emotional states of their students.
Amplified by the stressful conditions of recent years, the risk of negative emotional contagion has heightened. When educators operate under chronic stress or emotional fatigue, they're more likely to disseminate these emotions, creating a cascading effect that diminishes both their effectiveness and the learning environment. This puts the onus on educational leaders to not just manage their emotions but to actively engage in emotional fitness practices that uplift the entire educational setting.
The Relevance of Emotional Fitness Training
Sarah Moore's Emotional Fitness training programs merge content from the Emotional Fitness Formula and Conversational Intelligence, focusing on the core components of emotional well-being, employee engagement, and effective communication. Her practices aim to empower educational leaders and their teams to construct a healthy emotional environment, thereby elevating the educational quality provided.
The Imperative for Emotional Fitness
The global health crisis has generated a heightened need for emotional resilience, particularly within community-oriented sectors like education. As Sarah Moore puts it, "In a world altered by COVID-19, Emotional Fitness isn't an option; it's an imperative".
Emotional Fitness is an invaluable competency for educational leaders, particularly during these tumultuous times. As we continue to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic and the Great Resignation, the early childhood sector benefits immensely from training programs that aim to bolster emotional resilience among educators and, by extension, their students.
If you are an Early Childhood Leader who is curious about how you can build your team's Emotional Fitness, then I invite you to reach out and explore your needs and aspirations to find out whether my programs are aligned with your professional development priorities. firstname.lastname@example.org