SEL Theme: Reflection and Goal Setting

SEL Theme: Reflection and Goal Setting

Reflection and Goal-Setting Foster Self-Awareness

In Toward Transformative Social and Emotional Learning: Using an Equity Lens, Jagers, Rivas-Drake, and Borowski state “Social and Emotional development is a life-long and reflection-driven process”. Self-Awareness is a crucial component of SEL. As we gain the skills of Self-Awareness, we truly move toward becoming our most authentic and powerful selves. Reflection and Goal-Setting activities are effective ways for students to gain Self-Awareness.

The research and studies included in the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine help to refine the Self-Awareness concept by identifying the unique outcomes associated with the concepts of self-reflection, insight, rumination and mindfulness. Beneficial outcomes include self-development, acceptance, and proactivity (as an alternative to reactivity). One study states, that “Increased reflection results in increased self-development”. Self-reflection and insight result in beneficial outcomes!

What is Self-Awareness? For students, Self-Awareness is often “Why I do what I do, when I do what I do”. In the academic world, Self-Awareness is: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values, and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Examples of Self-Awareness include:

  • Integrating personal and social identities 
  • Identifying personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
  • Identifying one’s emotions
  • Demonstrating honesty and integrity
  • Linking feelings, values, and thoughts 
  • Examining prejudices and biases 
  • Experiencing self-efficacy
  • Having a growth mindset
  • Developing interests and a sense of purpose

All of these abilities and capacities contribute to good mental health. Self-Awareness through Reflection is a superpower and a mental wellness foundational skill. Through honest self-recognition, we can more readily learn from the past, live in the present, and set goals to wisely prepare for the future. By using Reflection and Goal Setting activities, teachers and students are able to gain the lessons learned through life experiences and set a future course that replaces apprehension with confidence, and “fear-sight” with foresight.

Jagers, Rivas-Drake, and Borowski further note that “Transformative SEL (TSEL) is a process whereby students and teachers build strong, respectful relationships founded on an appreciation of similarities and differences; learn to critically examine root causes of inequity; and develop collaborative solutions to community and social problems.” TSEL that includes Reflection and Goal Setting creates real space for staff and students to grow together, gain effective TSEL skills, and become powerful change makers in communities.

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