“We desperately need more leaders who are committed to courageous, wholehearted leadership and who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear.” – Brenè Brown
Learning to be is an essential pillar of The Village School’s Portrait of a Graduate. This session, our community has taken a reflective approach to understanding one of the important components of learning to be – self-awareness. Self-awareness, as defined by CASEL, “is the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. It also includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.” With this definition in mind, we set out to better understand our emotions, the perspectives of others, our actions, our support systems, and the value each of us brings to the world.
Cultivating self-awareness in each of our studios looks and feels different when we account for the different stages of human growth and development. At TVS, we truly value that each learner, each studio, is in a different place in how we can nurture self-awareness. In Spark Studio, we began by making a connection to a recent emotional experience that many of our learners understood, fear. Our learners had recently felt fear before getting on stage for an exhibition performance. Many described “butterflies in their tummies” or were concerned that they would not remember their song in front of their parents. Some of our learners were too nervous to step on stage. We harnessed this moment as an opportunity to develop a plan for how to recognize fear within our bodies and create a plan for how to approach our fears. Developing self-awareness around this emotion supports our learners on their journey to being more mindful of how they are experiencing emotions, coping with those emotions, recognizing them in others, empathizing, and building a positive relationship with themselves and others.
In addition to identifying our emotions, becoming more self-aware means that we can recognize when change is necessary in our lives and discover ways we can progress towards change. This skill requires a person to be able to identify their strengths. In Discovery studio, we took time to reflect on our strengths, what each of us brings to our community that makes us feel connected to each other. Then, we built a strengths chain together. This project was full of excitement, hard work, and determination. The learners enthusiastically wrote down all the qualities they were proud of and helped each other build our chain. The chain hangs in our hallway so each of the learners can remember that they each have important qualities that they bring to create a thriving learning environment.
Towards the end of our session, all learners have been reflecting on values. This entails expressing gratitude to the important people in our life for supporting us in our journeys to becoming who we hope to be. Understanding our values and the values of others helps us to understand more about our emotions and actions. From this, the learners discussed their value, what each of them brings to the world that is unique and special. Each one of us has the capability to make a difference in our community, we just need to cultivate the self-awareness to be able to recognize it within ourselves and make steps towards creating the difference we want to make.