Self-awareness is a life skill. Life skills are the abilities people need to confidently manage the demands and challenges of life. They provide the competencies required to solve problems, develop healthy relationships, communicate effectively, deal with emotions, and be mindful. Since we want kids to be happy and successful, it is important for educators to nurture self-awareness.
Self-awareness is having an accurate understanding of oneself. Someone who is self-aware can:
- accurately recognize their strengths and weaknesses
- identify personal challenges
- establish a value system that guides behavior
- recognize and control emotions
- show compassion to themselves and others
Self-awareness empowers a person to be the best version of themselves. It puts them in control. Someone who is self-aware can reflect upon their own actions, thoughts, and feelings. This information can then be used to adjust behavior, change perspective, and manage mood. It is like a superpower! But instead of jumping high buildings or lifting cars, kids boost their happiness and increase their chances for success.
Benefits to Self-Awareness
There are many benefits to developing self-awareness in students. People who self-aware are more likely to:
- set goals
- persist with a task
- adjust behavior to align with personal values or standards
- control impulses and reactions
- resolve interpersonal conflicts
Self-Awareness is an Area of Digital Emotional Intelligence
One organization that considers self-awareness to be essential for future-readiness is the DQ Institute. The DQ Institute has developed a framework for digital intelligence. It has 24 competencies, which includes Self-Awareness and Management. According to the DQ Global Standards report, for people to thrive in digital life they need to be able to recognize emotions and values and express them respectfully in all online interactions.
The DQ Institute outlines components of self-awareness. Students must be able to:
- understand how their value system influences their digital environment
- understand how their digital environment influences their value system
- explain how one’s mood can affect others
- identify and explain their emotions
- reflect on how their feelings may influence their digital experiences
- manage their moods and impulses
- stay aware of their own level of digital competence
- actively work to manage and update their skillset
- manage emotions to foster cooperation and positive interactions to fulfill goals
- actively manage their impulses to respect others during online communication
Teach Self-Awareness to Kids
Using the DQ Standards as a guide, teachers can design activities that help students develop self-awareness. There are many free resources online with individual lessons. However, another approach is to interweave self-awareness activities throughout a curriculum unit. TechnoKids has many technology projects that blend digital skills with self-awareness.
Below are seven ways to enhance self-awareness in students:
1. Rate Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude
Introduce a curriculum unit with a rating scale. Students must indicate their level of agreement towards one or more statements. This is a fun way to assess current knowledge, skills, or interest in a topic. Statements might be topic related, for example, “I have made a game using Python coding language” or skill related, “I know how to use variables in a program”. Be sure to include statements that measure feelings, such as “I am nervous about learning how to code” or values, such as “I think learning how to program is important”. Not only will this inform you about your students’ abilities and moods, but it will also build self-awareness.
2. Set a Personal Goal
Once a topic is introduced, it is a good idea to engage in goal setting. Have students write a goal statement. It should describe what they would like to learn and how they will demonstrate their new knowledge or skill. At the end of the unit, they can go back and determine if they met their goal.
3. Track Progress
Provide students with a task list. By dividing a job into smaller steps, not only does it make a goal more achievable, but it also builds self-awareness. Students independently monitor their progress throughout a curriculum unit. This allows them to adjust their behavior if a task remains incomplete.
4. Check Quality of Work
Supply students with a checklist that outlines the expectations for the completed work. It may include items for content and design. This assessment tool will help students identify areas that require revisions. A checklist is a practical way to have students become aware of their own competence and determine ways to improve.
5. Cooperate With a Peer
Design activities that include an opportunity for peers to provide feedback. Students can share their work during or at the end of a project. Peers can identify parts that they like or one area for improvement. This provides an opportunity for students to practice being objective. In addition, they must manage their emotions when cooperating with others.
6. Reflect Upon Learning
Encourage students to reflect upon the experience. They should consider their feelings, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and areas for future growth. Have them respond to open-ended questions. This will encourage them to gain insight into their emotions and values.
7. Engage the Audience
Celebrate success! At the end of a project have students share their work with others. They can engage their audience using digital tools such as commenting. Prior to beginning, teach students about netiquette. To assist, provide Comment Starters. These will help students build rapport and phrase their words politely. By posting encouragement and constructive suggestions students learn how to be respectful during online communication. This task will help students become aware of how others perceive them and their work.