Emotional intelligence in the classroom: a behavioural profile of the effective teacher

Prof Cecelia Jansen and Prof Melinde Coetzee, SA


The objectives of the presentation are to enhance participants’ understanding of:

  • the dynamics between Emotional Intelligence and the classroom climate and how these influence both teacher and learners’ performance and sense of wellbeing
  • how the behaviour and general demeanour of teachers impact the classroom climate and how emotionally intelligent behaviour makes a significant difference regarding the classroom climate
  • how learners’ perceive the ideal teacher and how these perceptions relate to emotionally intelligent behaviour, in particular Reuven BarOn’s EI model.


Teachers are regarded as vital role models who can make a difference to whether learners feel safe, respected, valued and inspired in the classroom. The purpose of this study was to explore how the concept of emotional intelligence relates to behaviours that effective teachers display in the classroom and whether a specific behavioural profile can be drawn up. Such a profile could be used to inform the curriculum design for the education and development of teachers in the South African context as well as teachers regarding the challenges and the demands of the new generation child. The sample consisted of 120 learners (ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 7) from two South African school environments and constituted 50 % Blacks and 50 % Whites. Qualitative methods were used to collect and analyse learners’ views and drawings on the behaviour of the effective (or ideal) teacher. The implications of the findings for teacher education and development are discussed and recommendations for further research are made.


Cecelia Jansen (DEd) is associate professor in the Psychology of Education in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of South Africa.

Melinde Coetzee (Dlitt et Phil) is a professionally registered Industrial Psychologist and associate professor in Career Psychology in the Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the University of South Africa.

Both presenters have published widely and are extensively involved in research projects on the topic of emotional intelligence in the school environment. They have also presented papers at national and international conferences and currently run workshops to guide teachers on applying Emotional Intelligence in the classroom.