The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Nicholas Miller

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Emotional intelligence, reflection, collaboration, professional development, communication



During my final semester as a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) student–while also teaching college ESL classes–I found myself curious about the emotional aspect of teaching. An education class I was enrolled in at the time happened to be covering a unit on “Teaching the Whole Person”, in which we discussed ‘emotional intelligence’ or EI (Diaz-Rico, 2008, p. 35). The construct of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is comprised of five main categories: intrapersonal, interpersonal, stress management, adaptability, and general mood (Bar-On, 1997). I began to contemplate whether or not traditional methods of professional development (PD) address EI. This led to my own investigation – a project – or thought experiment – to link the emotional aspect of teaching to best practice pedagogy.

PD in the form of graduate seminars and teacher education programs is ignoring something that appears so simple and obvious to me–time spent in teacher talk is worthwhile. Teacher talk, or what I will refer to here as the Conversation Circle, provides the practitioner with a built-in mode of reflection using authentic content, and reflection is widely known in our profession to be a fundamental component of teacher development.

Using a strategy from, “Teaching with Emotional Intelligence” (Mortiboys, 2005), I set out designing the Conversation Circle. Analysis of the Conversation Circle identified salient features of teacher talk, which by its casual nature fosters collaboration and reflection, and presents possibilities for application to teacher education and professional development.

Keywords: Emotional intelligence, reflection, collaboration, professional development, communication


I dedicate this work, with love, to my husband Thomas and my three beautiful children, Lydia, Elliot and Sawyer, who endured as I labored through the program and this culminating project. Their patience, encouragement and support will always provide me with the strength and courage to achieve more. I hope my work through this process will serve as a model, demonstrating resilience, determination and a strong work ethic so; they too, can consider and pursue their heart’s desires.

I would also like to thank my mom, Linda, and my grandmothers, Ellen and Cleora, who instilled in me early on an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the trust to be who I want, even as I still search for who and what that may eventually bring into light. They allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.

A very special thank you to my dear friends Lyndsey, Jaq, and especially my sister, Char, who reminded me that patience and persistence worked hand in hand and were necessary. They taught me many things, but most importantly, how to ask the hard questions and never settle for a “good enough”.

I would like to thank my advisors. I am blessed to have been mentored and challenged by many knowledgeable, progressive individuals. My desire to learn and teach would never have evolved without their influence and the opportunity to serve as a teacher and tutor in the ESL programs at the University. I want you to know that your influence has transformed the way I think and helped me develop a “critical yet compassionate eye” through which to view the world. For this, I will be forever in your debt.