SELF-EFFICACY Standard 3: Individual has the ability to motivate oneself, persevere, and see oneself as capable.
In my college years of teacher training I idealistically thought that my students started out their days at with a happy family, a good breakfast, and were well rested from sleeping in a safe and happy home. Heading into my 15th year in education, I know that this is not the reality the majority of my students face. Our students don’t all have safe homes, warm beds, and a healthy breakfast. School is often where they feel the safest, where they eat their meals, and where they are cared for and loved. Without these things, being self-motivated, persevering In the face of failure, and believing you are capable of greatness, just isn’t possible.
Benchmark 3A – Demonstrates the skills to set, monitor, adapt, persevere, achieve, and evaluate goals.
How can we encourage our students to set and monitor goals? How can we empower them to persist when it is difficult? How will they know when they achieve their goals? How can they evaluate their own performance? WE HELP THEM! Every morning with my students my staff and I do a check-in. Our check-in consists of setting a personal daily goal, talking about what they need to do to meet that goal, and keeping track of the personal goal and expectations on a daily behavior sheet. Students see their progress daily, it gets shared with parents at home, and we chart it on a basic graph. It makes it impossible not to focus on personal goals on a daily basis.
Benchmark 3B – Demonstrates problem-solving skills to engage responsibly in a variety of situations.
Often times we address problems with students after-the-fact. In my classroom, during our morning check-in, we address possible problems before they occur. It’s no secret that I love the Zones of Regulation curriculum. My co-workers and I adapted it to create a “Zones Check-in” sheet that helps my students recognize where they are emotionally, what they need to stay in the “green” during the day, and what they can do if they find themselves not in the “green”.
Benchmark 3C – Demonstrates awareness and ability to speak on behalf of personal rights and responsibilities.
This benchmark is, I believe, the most difficult to teach. As an adult, I often step in on behalf of my students when they are in conflict with one another. I try to fix things before they get out of hand. I get really uncomfortable letting things play out to their natural end when conflicts occur. This benchmark is a study in letting go.
In my class we do daily social skills lessons and activities maybe from a curriculum or maybe to address a concern we are having, but it all depends on the current class climate. My students often have trouble taking turns and playing simple games together. I had one of my para-professionals suggest we put the kids into small groups and let them decide what to play, how to play, and let them work out the conflicts without us interfering. It was incredibly hard to give up my control, but it was a great experiment. We hovered around the outskirts of the game play time and just watched and gestured to each other as conflicts came and went. We watched them advocate for themselves, work through disagreements, use their words, and handle winning and losing gracefully. It was amazing! It was the perfect way to practice the skills we had been learning, and was something we continued to do throughout the year.
One great tool to help foster this is Kelso’s Choices. We have used this in our district, and many therapists and counselors have recommended it. It comes from the Kelso’s Choice conflict management curriculum, and is well worth exploring!
In working through these benchmarks, we empower our students to take control of their social-emotional learning, and to really put into practice the skills we tend to teach in isolation. The more a student can successfully handle a problem, be it academic or social, the more they believe in their own ability to overcome. This is a powerful standard and one worth focusing on.
How do you encourage your students to demonstrate their self-efficacy? Please share your thoughts and ideas below.
For more information on the Social Emotional Learning work group, check out this site: Social Emotional Learning for Washington