This is the question that guided our 10 participants during the course “Soft Skills and emotional intelligence for teacher and educational staff”, which took place from 04/07 to 10/07 in Puerto de la Cruz, in the amazing island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.
After a long journey to arrive there from all over Europe, the participants had the opportunity to meet each others: Susanne, Cornelia and Juliane from a secondary school in Austria, Tsvetomira and Teodora from a kindergarden in Bulgaria, Ilias, Georgios, Ilias and Aikaterini from an evening secondary school in Greece, and Anna from a secondary school in Estonia.

In the beginning, the group explored the broad concept of Soft Skills, the interpersonal skills which allow us to interact with other people. By investigating the topic with activities and exercises, the group discovered that Emotional intelligence plays a crucial roles in developing our interpersonal skills. Practicing activities of self-awareness, self-control, self-motivation, building social relationships and empathy with our students it’s a critical step in order to enhance their capacities to recognize emotions and act consequently, both with themselves and other people, and our 10 colleagues tested some concrete examples on how to do it.
Then, we dedicated time to explore the topic of Leadership and teamwork. By reflecting on the characteristic of great leaders, the group investigated the main leadership styles, distinguishing when it is appropriate to use each of them and eventually coming up with ideas and suggestions on how to develop each style. By using some role-play activities, each person was able to contribute to sharing knowledge about what makes a good leader, especially in relation with his/her team. Finally, the participants woke up their creative side when they were asked to portrait the characteristics which transform a group in a great team. A real success!

After that, we focused our attention on Communication styles: Aggressive, Passive, Passive/Aggressive and Assertive. Communication is not simply important, communication is everything. For this reason, I wanted my participants to investigated each style of communication in great details: first by analysing some case studies and exploring the emotions each style can trigger, then watching some videos, recognising clues which help us recognize a style among the others. As a result, the groups was able to determine typical goals, beliefs, looks, actions and feelings which characterize each style. After a successful morning of work, the rest of the day was dedicated to cultural activities, a tour which took some of our participants in the most beautiful and remote places of interest around the island.

Toward the end of the week, we started to feel the hard-work of the previous days was catching up with us, but the curiosity and the willingness to improve the skills was the fuel feeding our engines and this guaranteed another great day of training. This time, the topic was Non Verbal Language and Public Speaking. Did you know that 55% of what you communicated passes through your body language, and only 7% by your words? By analyzing photos and videos of positive and negative body postures, gestures and facial expressions, the groups was thrilled to have learned to read body language. We concluded the day by investigating the topic of Public Speaking: things to do and not do, to say and not say, and how crucial the audience’s role is in all of this.

Have you ever asked yourself if all conflicts are bad? How can we find beauty in conflicting situation? These are the key questions that guided our reflection on Conflict Management. Learning how to manage a conflict, and understanding other people’s reaction and interactions in a conflicting situation can be a valuable asset in order to gain something positive out of it, instead of feeling overwhelming stress.

To conclude our course, I asked my beautiful group to use again their creative skills to express their emotions: 10 pieces of art were created and presented, each of them highlighting different aspects of what they appreciated the most about the week, all of them with one thing in common: the happiness of feeling something had changed, and that new seeds were planted in their minds. Now it’s time to nurture them, and wait for the fruits.

The course was really appreciated by the teachers:

“The course was very well structured, useful and interesting. The mentor is wonderful!”

The trainer, Giulia Zambon