Self-awareness is a skill that many adults, let alone kids, struggle with. Fortunately, however, this skill can be cultivated in youth with the right social-emotional support—and schools play an essential role in providing that. But before we dive into our strategies for supporting self-awareness development in students, let’s first define self-awareness and discuss why it’s so crucial for youth.
What Is Self-Awareness?
As described by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), self-awareness encompasses “the abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.” Self-awareness skills are important because they allow students to see themselves and their emotions clearly. This not only enhances students’ ability to recognize their own strengths and limitations—which can aid in their education—but also fosters feelings of confidence and self-purpose.
Self-Awareness Skills Lead to Better Student Outcomes
As an educator, it’s essential to consider the ways that self-awareness skills lead to better outcomes for students, including improved:
- Academic performance
- Conflict and stress management
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Goal achievement
Self-awareness skills help students understand themselves and others, behave properly in the right settings, and make sense of their cultural identities. Social-emotional learning (SEL), the framework by which students come to hone their self-awareness skills, can also educate students on how to properly label their emotions. This can help them avoid mislabeling and projecting their emotions, which can lead to behavioral issues and other negative student outcomes.
How to Support Self-Awareness Development in Students
Schools play an essential role in providing social-emotional learning support for students. In fact, less than a third of students believe in their school’s capability to handle student mental health issues that could lead to self-harm or suicide. So, what can be done to address social-emotional learning for K-12 students to help them hone their self-awareness skills?
Address Challenges About Racial or Cultural Differences
With the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement ongoing, it’s essential for educators to address challenges about racial or cultural differences head-on to preserve individual safety and organizational culture. These conversations should be normalized throughout schools to help students and community members move forward productively.
When students have a safe space for honest dialogue with people they trust, it helps them grow as individuals who go on to build cultures of civility, safety, and understanding. These conversations can help develop self-awareness skills by asking students to examine their thoughts, feelings, and potential prejudices in a safe, educational environment that allows them to connect with and accept one another.
Address Mental Health and Emotional Issues
Wellness and self-care are certainly having a moment, but as an educator, note that there’s a big difference between prioritizing safety in words only—through company emails, newsletters to parents, safety signage, etc.—and backing those words with real, actionable support. And if schools don’t properly address stress and mental health, they risk students engaging in violent behavior toward themselves and/or those around them.
This is especially important to consider in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The emotional fallout of this crisis will likely persist well into the future, presenting a clear opportunity to normalize the necessity for social-emotional learning across all ages (something that, with widespread adoption, could greatly improve our communities for years to come). You can show students that their mental health matters by providing tangible social-emotional learning support in schools through dedicated SEL curriculum.
Choosing the Right SEL Curriculum for Your District
Did you know that 72% of principals at low-performing schools believe that a bigger focus on social-emotional learning would greatly improve students’ abilities to stay on track to graduate? While encouraging social-emotional learning in schools within your district on an ad hoc basis is certainly better than having no support in place at all, a holistic approach to social-emotional learning provides much stronger outcomes for students. That’s where Navigate360’s Suite360 SEL curriculum comes in. Our digital curriculum includes research-based courses that help turn necessary discipline into learning opportunities, enabling students to hone their self-awareness skills and reach better academic, emotional, and social outcomes.