Unlocking Emotional Culture: How Senior Teachers Used The Emotional Culture Deck at the National Kindergartens Association Hui


When it comes to the educational realm, there’s a lot of focus on curricula, methodologies, and technology. However, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the emotional culture within educational institutions. This was the focus of a recent Hui for Senior Teachers from the National Kindergartens Association. The session centred around The Emotional Culture Deck, a versatile tool that serves as a catalyst for meaningful conversations and transformative changes.

Self-branding and Introduction

The workshop kicked off with a 'self-branding' exercise using The ECD. Participants were asked to pick cards that represented what they would like to be known for and what they’d prefer not to be known for. This set the stage for authentic conversations as the teachers moved around the room, sharing their choices with five different colleagues. The exercise was not just about words; it was about setting the emotional tone and culture they wished to foster in their professional lives.

Reflecting on the Past Week

The second activity of the day served as a reflective tool. Teachers were encouraged to place two 'black' cards above an invisible line to represent negative or challenging emotions experienced during the past week. Simultaneously, two 'white' cards below the line indicated positive feelings. This simple visual exercise triggered valuable discussions, helping educators recognise their emotional patterns and their impact on their work environment.

Setting Intentions for the Week Ahead

Setting intentions is a powerful way to shape our emotional culture for the better. For this, the teachers selected two black and two white cards, each representing a feeling they wished to either minimise or encourage in the upcoming week. They then set actionable steps for each emotion, which they shared with a buddy. The exercise fostered a sense of accountability, boosting the likelihood of actual behavioural change.

Managing Challenging Relationships

Interpersonal relationships can be a minefield in any professional setting. The ECD was used to tackle this issue head-on. Teachers picked white cards to signify the feelings triggered by someone they found challenging. They then chose black cards to help them reframe or approach these relationships without negative bias. This was an empowering exercise that added another layer to the workshop's emotional culture focus.

Facilitating Organisational Change

Change is inevitable, but it is often met with resistance. One of The ECDs applications is to facilitate smoother transitions within organisations. The workshop’s participants explored how they could use the cards to set expectations, check in at crucial milestones, and address any negative feelings that may arise during the change process.

The Value of Check-ins

To ensure that the workshop's pace and content were aligned with the participants' needs, periodic 'check-ins' were conducted using The ECD. These helped in gauging how the teachers felt about what they were learning and the rate at which they were learning it.

The ECD is more than just a set of cards.

The session concluded on a high note—participants were so engaged that they expressed their gratitude by gifting a little Kiwi mascot and singing a traditional waiata.

The ECD is more than just a set of cards; it's a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and transformative change.

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