How well do you know yourself? Self-awareness is the first step in social and emotional learning. Although we often focus on getting to know our students and their families and, in the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, on enhancing students’ self-awareness, it’s important to take the time to make sure we get to know ourselves! Gaining awareness of our own characteristics, skills, and styles will help us better understand our own actions and reactions, and enhance our ability to communicate and interact with other people (and animals, too). It is important to recognize your strengths, talents, abilities, and special gifts, even those not related to teaching. However, it’s also important to acknowledge areas where we can improve. As is the case with children, promoting self-awareness can increase self-confidence and appreciation of diversity, as well as enhanced communication skills and the capacity for empathy.

Try this in the classroom:

All about you. Surprise students with a fun fact about yourself. Sharing a favorite hobby or activity that may not be readily apparent in school will enable you to think about your special characteristics and will challenge students to think differently about you.

Find one thing in common. Challenge students to find one thing in common with every other student in the class; examples include sharing the same birthday month, hair color, favorite pizza topping, or television show. Ask students if anyone was surprised by the similarities they share with other classmates. Can you find one thing you share in common with each of your students?