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Dec 03, 2023 05:16 am | pathway2success
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is having a clear and accurate understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses, values, feelings, and hopes for the future. These are skills that kids and young adults need to be successful. Being more self-aware can help learners improve their grades and performance at school, build stronger friendships, feel happier, and ultimately achieve their personal goals.
Why is Self-Awareness Important?
Self-awareness helps students understand who they are as learners, friends, and individuals. The more they know about themselves, the better we can be.
Here’s a quick example: Let’s say a student wants to do well on a science test to improve their grade. If they are self-aware, they can better recognize which concepts or areas they need more help in. They might even ask to stay after for extra help if they notice they are struggling. On the other hand, a student lacking self-awareness might not even think about their performance on the test, or might think they will be fine without ever really assessing how they are doing. Of course, this can make a big difference for that student.
Helping students improve their skills for self-awareness is something they will use now and long into the future.
How Can Educators Teach Self-Awareness?
There are several different strategies and techniques for teaching learners how to become more self-aware. It’s important to note that building skills for self-awareness doesn’t happen right away. There should be a big emphasis on having an accurate understanding of these skills and abilities. This takes time and practice.
If you are looking for materials set up and ready to go, check out this Social Emotional Learning Unit for Self-Awareness. It includes guided instruction, group activities, independent practice, and so much more. This an ideal way to start off your morning meetings or an advisory group. As a bonus, it is the first unit to a Yearlong Social Emotional Learning Curriculum. It is specifically designed for middle school learners and their unique needs.
Here are some easy-to-implement strategies for teaching students about self-awareness in the classroom:
Use reflection questions. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to ask some reflection questions. Keep the focus positive. Questions might include: What are you grateful for? What positive choices did you make today? What are you proud of yourself for today? What made you feel happy today? Use this free printable list of reflection questions to give this self-awareness practice a try.
Teach about strengths and challenges. As individuals, we all have skills that are stronger and weaker for us. It’s important for learners to think about these abilities with an open mind. Understanding strengths can help students recognize what they are already great at. Not only does this help build confidence, but students can learn to use those strengths to work on their areas of weakness. It’s always important to highlight that challenges, or weaknesses, aren’t a bad thing. They are just skills that need to be developed more with hard work, determination, and time.
Discuss interests and hobbies. Besides just strengths and challenges, students should have a clear understanding of what they like to do. This is where developing a passion for something really beings, and we want our learners to be passionate in life. Whether students love dirt-biking, dancing, writing, learning new languages, or playing a particular sport, these activities can potentially open up doors later on in the future. In addition, discussing interests and hobbies can be an extremely helpful tool in building relationships (both student to student and student to teacher).
Highlight good character traits. Discuss qualities of honesty, bravery, kindness, loyalty, and compassion. These skills and abilities are important to highlight because they are the qualities we want learners to strive for. Students can start to self-reflect about their own character traits. Best of all, learning about character traits can easily be integrated into any literature or reading curriculum.
Encourage checking-in with yourself. Kids and young adults are in “go mode” quite often. They have to be taught how to stop, think, and check-in with themselves. You can implement a daily check-in during morning meeting or right before morning work. Have students consider how they are feeling and what they need to have a great day.
Provide a structured check-in time. Besides teaching students how to check-in, it can help to schedule dedicated check-in time into the day. Use the first 5 minutes of a class, or as students just walk in the room. Have them reflect how they are feeling and what they need. This also gives you a chance to see who might need extra support that day. Use this free emotions check-in page to try with your students.
Create a class bucket list. One fun way to create a class bucket list is to set up centers. Have different centers be for places your students might want to visit, activities they want to try, goals they want to accomplish, ways they want to change the world, and anything else that comes to mind. Place a poster at each spot. Then, at each center, students should write what they want to accomplish. This will create one big class bucket list. Throughout the year, you can remind students about why they are working so hard.
Encourage a growth mindset. Kids and young adults should feel comfortable taking risks, trying new things, and even making mistakes. These are essential elements to learning about who we are as individuals. Teaching kids to embrace a growth mindset can encourage all of that. You can start by teaching students to change their thinking. Rather than saying, “I’m just not good at math. I’m going to do horribly on this test,” teach kids to say, “I’m still working at math, so I’m going to study a little extra harder so I can do my best.” Read up on more ways to promote a growth mindset with your learners.
Develop goals. Creating individualized SMART goals can be a tool to help students see where they are right now and where they want to be. Students can create goals about anything that is meaningful to them, whether it is improving their math grade or working on joining a basketball team. Create individualized student goal reflection binders and meet with students on a regular basis to check-in on what they are working on.
Talk about emotions. In order for students to be able to manage their feelings, they need to fully understand those emotions to start. Provide learners with a robust emotional vocabulary, going beyond just feeling sad or angry; include words like furious and irritated, disappointed and crushed. Talk about what they mean and give examples. This practice can easily be integrated when discussing characters in literature as well.
Gather for morning meetings. Morning meeting is a daily time for all students to meet and discuss meaningful topics. It can be an extremely useful time for each student to check-in with themselves, consider how they are feeling, and think about what they need. As a bonus, morning meetings are also helpful for building and strengthening a positive class climate. Sometimes, we think of morning meeting as an activity for elementary kids, but they can be done with older learners just the same.
Hold weekly or bi-weekly conferences. Individual conferencing sessions with students can be one of the best ways to help them develop self-awareness skills. Meet with students to discuss their goals and how they are doing in all areas at school. Give positive feedback and constructive criticism to help your learners grow.
Remember that if you are looking for materials to teach self-awareness skills right away, check out this Self Awareness Unit or this Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for the whole year.
Implementing just a few small strategies throughout the year can help your learners grow to be more confident, prepared, and self-aware now and in the future.
The post Helping Middle School Kids Build Self-Awareness Skills appeared first on The Pathway 2 Success.