Emotional Equity: Empowering All Students to Honor and Learn From Their Emotions

For ADVISORS, teachers, deans, counselors, psychologists, social workers, learning specialists, and student life program administrators

“Cheer up.” “Chill out.” “Calm down.” Our language is full of expressions that tell us we should control or change how we feel. Even when we say “it’s OK to be sad” or “you have every right to be angry,” we imply that these emotions are allowed but not ideal. No surprise, then, that some SEL programs focus on managing or coping with certain emotions. Meanwhile, those with marginalized identifiers are often the ones most quickly and frequently told to manage their emotions so that those with power can stay comfortable.

Emotional equity is when all members of a group  are empowered to notice, name, honor, and learn from their feelings. In this experiential workshop, we will explore some of the messages we receive about emotions, and how those messages relate to sociocultural identifiers such as race and gender. Then, we’ll spend most of our time learning a protocol called the Emotions and Values Audit that helps students notice their own emotions, name the values those emotions are connected to, and choose actions in accordance with those values. We’ll explore how to use the protocol in academic classes, advisory groups, parent conferences, and disciplinary incidents, so that all students are empowered to connect their actions to their values, in and out of the classroom. To ensure that this activity is relevant during and beyond the pandemic, we’ll see how to use it online and in person to promote emotional equity across learning environments.

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© Lauren Porosoff and Jonathan Weinstein, 2020