Emotional-social competencies that enhance wellness in teachers: an exploratory study
Stress has become endemic amongst teachers globally. Although there are common factors that account for the increased levels of stress among teachers, the particular factors involved differ from country to country. South Africa has gone through more than a decade of political and social change. Coping with the extended transitions within the educational system has affected teachers’ wellness. Emotional intelligence or emotionalsocial competencies, the term used in the study, offers a way of viewing the means of primary prevention as a whole, rather as loosely related elements. This offers a practical way of describing the key range of competencies that make it possible to modulate emotions, to solve social problems creatively, to be effective leaders or collaborators, to be assertive and responsible, or to be able to ask evocative and/or social questions that lead to new learning. This study focuses on the need for teachers to develop specific social and coping skills, as well the need for them to have the necessary environmental support, to prevent stress and promote wellness in teachers. This interpretive study used questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and "a day in the life of" interviews to explore the perceptions of Life Orientation teachers about the emotionalsocial competencies that improve and support their wellness. The South African teachers surveyed consider that certain emotionalsocial competencies enhance their wellness. In their view, all teachers would benefit from having a toolkit emotionalsocial competencies. They also expressed the need for pre-service teacher education to offer training in these competencies.