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Teaching and Leading with Emotional Intelligence: A Dilemma-Based Casebook for Early Care and Education

reviewed by Amy Corp

coverTitle: Teaching and Leading with Emotional Intelligence: A Dilemma-Based Casebook for Early Care and Education
Author(s): Peggy Daly Pizzo, Teresa Gonczy O'Rourke, & Ed Greene
Publisher: Teachers College Press, New York
ISBN: 0807758841, Pages: 176, Year: 2017
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Combining extensive research and input from experts in early childhood, Pizzo, (herself an early childhood expert) creates a resource of cases for those working with young children. These cases are designed to encourage critical thinking and discussion about the complex dilemmas that occur when fostering emotional intelligence in young children. The book is organized with an introduction to the frameworks of emotional intelligence, and six cases. Part One includes cases one through four, which focus on the interactions between teacher and child. Part Two includes cases five and six for early childhood leaders. This text reaches a broad audience. Cases one through four would be ideal for instruction or professional development of teachers. Cases five and six would be ideal for current and future leaders in early childhood (especially those relying on funding from the government).

Case one, “Thomas, Arthur and Sharing,” describes the interactions of a teacher with students who struggle to share. This realistic portrayal of students not sharing likely resonates with parents and teachers who would naturally solve the problem for them or discipline the children to solve the problem. But through the narrative we see the importance of taking time to help children determine ways to solve their own problems, leading them to develop social and emotional self-regulation, empathy, and problem-solving. The discussion questions are thought-provoking and require the reader to really think about the whole child, not just the behavior. Readers are also asked to examine the teachers’ interactions that are age-appropriate and culturally sensitive. There is a list of resources (after the discussion questions) that are particularly helpful for fostering social and emotional development and for teachers to explore the importance of cultural and linguistic sensitivity.

Case Two, “Ming: A Mystery Story,” explores the situation of cultural, linguistic, and temperament differences that impact the teacher-child relationship. Teachers in this case learn some strategies for building a relationship with students who are linguistically and culturally different from themselves. Readers also learn vicariously through the teachers about how important it is to understand a child’s biculturalism and temperament, and how to better interact with the family by learning about their cultural norms for student-teacher relations. The discussion questions in this case also do some teaching about classroom management, interacting strategies, and how to build social skills for English language learners. The case ends with resources for developmentally appropriate practices, learning more about temperaments and their impact on behavior, the reserved temperament, preschool English language learners, understanding social difference in Chinese American and Taiwanese children, connecting with diverse families, and a website with a list of programs that serve diverse families.

Case Three, “Sky High Energy in Classroom 5,” tackles many sensitive issues that caregivers and teachers experience in the classroom. Teachers in this case are women of color, with years of experience. In this narrative they are struggling with African American twins who are described as intensely active. The teachers have tried everything and are ready to consider expulsion. Teachers in this case reflect on implicit bias, interactions between teachers, schools, and parents, and how decisions in early education impact children for life. It also describes children who exhibit high energy and limited self-regulation and executive function, and how to handle the assessment and treatment for ADHD. Through the case and discussion, several best practices are described for helping students attend (develop their executive function) within the realm of play. The discussion questions also cover communicating with parents, reflecting on implicit bias, understanding over-excitability, and how to cope with challenging behavior. Many resources are listed for self-regulation and executive function, the development of boys, positive classroom strategies, ADHD, mental health, family engagement, classroom design for promoting social and emotional development, learning about the effects of expulsion in preschool, understanding  implicit bias, and many articles on building emotional intelligence skills that promote self-regulation.

Case Four, “Roberto and Maria,” describes general issues that arise when trying to build teacher-child relationships with children who have been abused, all while still managing a classroom. Readers come to understand the complexities that trauma brings. The lifelike case deals with teen parents, alcoholism, restraining orders, classroom management, and typical behaviors of children that have seen or experienced abuse. Throughout this case, the teachers and director are creating and reflecting on ideas for supporting the student, engaging the student, calming the student, and building resilience. The discussion questions encourage readers to really think about the impact of abuse on children and how to positively build a relationship with them while including opportunities to practice positive social skills in the classroom. Resources include articles on: an overview of trauma, the impact of trauma, helping traumatized children, preventing teacher burnout, and building resilience in young children.

The next section, Part Two, targets leaders in early childhood. Case Five, “Coming to Ground,” presents typical, yet layered and complex challenges leaders in early childhood encounter. In this case, the reader is brought into the dynamics of teacher-leadership relationships, and once again the case teaches us positive strategies as problems unfold. The discussion questions also describe solutions as we are asked to examine the case for evidence. Readers should especially appreciate the points about how early childhood is not like a business and the same principles cannot be applied. Pizzo takes special care over and over to validate the complexities of working with young children (and their caregivers). Resources include articles on leadership, frameworks for best practices in early childhood programs, health and safety, assessment and rating scales, and using data to improve outcomes.

Case Six addresses several key issues that are imbedded in larger dilemmas that leaders in early childhood care experience. In this case, “Crisis and Compassion,” leaders are debating whether or not to accept a large award of funding. The funding is earmarked for professional development, even though the leadership team knows that teachers and staff at their centers are leaving due to low pay, and that having substitutes is hurting the level of care they can provide for children. This case provides many points for discussion, including how to deal with the stress of being in leadership, utilizing one’s own emotional and social intelligence to promote teamwork and make important decisions thoughtfully. In the discussion questions, Pizzo utilizes recent texts to describe four styles of resonant leadership and eleven interconnected steps for leaders to design change. In asking the reader to evaluate the leaders in this case, she also describes the characteristics of leaders who use data for decision-making.

In conclusion, this text is a great resource for learning about emotional and social intelligence through studying teacher-student relationships, leader-teacher relationships, and the complexities of working in early childhood education (especially when not privately funded). Pizzo’s cases are vividly described, and reading them feels like listening in on actual conversations and seeing actual situations as we peek into the complex dynamics of working in early childhood. As we read how characters react and respond, we uncover possible solutions to issues in early childhood, and we see how we can use our own emotional and social intelligence not only to cope but to help children thrive.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22425, Date Accessed: 11/20/2018 11:51:13 PM

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