Emotional agility refers to one’s ability to positively experience thoughts, emotions and events and allows them to understand how certain emotions will affect their behaviour. Having well-rounded emotional agility does not discredit emotions and thoughts but is rather a process of using emotions as data and thereby being able to learn from them rather than be dominated by them. Emotions are a biological reaction which creates a behavioural response, which plays an important role in a student’s life as they need to navigate stressful exam periods and their social interactions with fellow peers.
A student’s emotional well-being has a direct impact on their academic performance, which is the reason we place an emphasis on assisting learners to develop a sense of emotional agility at school-level. One’s emotions can be likened to information that our own bodies create in order to inform our brain to act in a certain manner which in turn, then determines our behaviour or reaction. Emotions play an important role in our physical and mental well-being- both of which determines our level of productivity and personal growth in both personal and professional areas of our lives.
Children are usually taught to manage their emotions during their early school years, where a teacher’s role is to guide learners and help students to develop problem solving abilities, to understand how to navigate certain emotions and not react negatively, this is then reinforced by discipline where one also learns that there is a consequence for negative behaviour. Emotions do not merely refer to being happy or sad, as one’s emotions are a broad spectrum and being able to identify emotions and not allowing them to disrupt work and progress is a favourable quality to have as this would determine an individual’s level of productivity. Emotional agility also translates into resilience, where many schools have transitioned to online- students may feel isolated and this can have a significant impact on their emotions and productivity. The schooling environment is a stressful one as students are required to keep up with assignments and various tests from several different classes, but the social aspect of the traditional classroom is a fundamental component that allows students to have a balance between study and social, both of which play an important role in a student’s development and mental well-being. How is online schooling filling the social gaps that students might encounter with e-learning? Ivy Academy is an online high-school, offering CAPS (South African curriculum) as well as the Cambridge International curriculum to grade 7-12 learners, where in efforts to bridge the gap- they offer online skill-based clubs as an after-school activity. These clubs serve as extra-curriculars on the student’s online learning management platform where they can participate and engage with peers. There are a variety of clubs that students can participate in, catering to a variety of aptitudes; chess, journalism, music and radio. These extra-curricular clubs offer students a platform to engage with others and develop communicative skills that students will carry with them into their tertiary studies and the work place.
Now more than ever, a student’s ability to focus is dependent on resilience. The management of stress and isolation can be overwhelming for anyone, and because a student’s performance is heavily reliant on their degree of emotional agility, schools need to keep mental and physical health of the learner at the core of their curricula. Schools that have transitioned to a virtual space should consider incorporating cultural and extra-curricular activities that encourage interaction outside of the online classroom in order to develop and reinforce the social skills that learners will depend upon for both their personal lives and academic careers.