Please take a moment to check in on the class feelings board if you would like.
Self awareness is an essential component of understanding emotions, an important step towards emotional regulation. Self awareness is having a clear understanding of your personality, strengths and weaknesses, thoughts, motivations and emotions. It allows you to understand other people in terms of how they perceive you and your responses to them in the moment.
Metacognition is the act of "thinking about your thinking." Practicing metacognition is one way we become more self aware - we begin to realize we are not our thoughts, we are the thinker. We can teach our students to take time to stop throughout the day and reflect in on their thinking, feeling and behaviors, an activity that is also called self-evaluation.
Benefits of Increased Self Awareness
1. Self awareness allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practice self-control, work creatively and productively, and experience pride in ourselves and our work.
2. Self awareness leads to better decision making.
3. Self awareness encourages positive self-development.
Practicing self awareness also helps students to have a deeper understanding of their identity. It helps them develop an understanding of who they are, how they think about themselves, the way they are viewed by the world and the characteristics that define them.
Self Check-In: Using the Starfish/Tornado visual below, ask your students to check in about how they are feeling. Are they calm as a starfish, or agitated like a tornado (or have fun making up something in between!). Brainstorm a list of ways to calm back down when they feel agitated inside. Ask them to stop and think a few times each day about how they are feeling. It helps to give them a place to make a tally (worksheet, digital document) each time they remember to stop and check in with themselves.
Emotional Vocabulary: Ask students to process one emotional vocabulary word each week. Ask them to define it, comment on times when they have felt it themselves, and times they have seen others exhibit it. For example - 'What is courage? What is a time when you felt courageous? When have you noticed others being courageous?'
Identity: For older students interested in personality as a component of identity, a basic starting point is on the topic of extroverts/introverts. This is an often misunderstood dichotomy, and it can help students to understand themselves better. Many are surprised to learn that being an introvert is not about being antisocial...it is about where we get our energy from. An interesting discussion point: many argue that these days, our society more publicly rewards people for being extroverted. Being in quarantine, we are seeing introverts thrive (relatively) and extroverts have a much more difficult time.
One of my all-time favorite TED Talks is this one, on the Power of Introverts.
Coping Skills Inventory: Take a 'Coping Skills Inventory.' Give students a list of activities that are often useful for coping with big emotions. Explain that people all around the world are feeling complex emotions - for example, a child may be happy they are getting to play more games with their family, but sad that their birthday party is cancelled. Ask them to check off which coping strategies most help them, and to brainstorm others that may help as well.
Sample List: Going for walks, Music, Sleeping, Family Movies, Online Communities, Connecting with Friends, Puzzles, Comedy, Audiobooks, Books
This site has some great printables.
Sesame Street and Big Emotions: For very young students, Sesame Street continues to have wonderful content about understanding and processing our feelings. Here is a very sweet song with Abby Cadabby about big emotions. Here is a link to activities and other Sesame Street videos on emotions.
Calm Space: If possible, ask students to create a place that is just for them to sit and be calm. This is a great place to have ready for later in this course, when students will practice going there to cool down when their emotions become overwhelming. For now, it can just be a place to sit and think about how they are doing, and what they might need at that moment. They can keep a few books nearby, perhaps some coloring, or even a water bottle can be helpful. A favorite stuffed animal is always nice to have. My daughter keeps her ipod and headphones there to listen to some music when she wants to relax and reset and think about life.
Up Next: Social Awareness