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In this blog, we will continue to identify tools with which to fulfill specific SEL standards. We will first look at objective A4 in the competency of self-awareness, which is “to demonstrate a sense of … confidence and advocacy.” We will then explore objective B3 in the competency of self-management, which is to “persevere through challenges and setbacks in school and life”.

Previous blogs have examined the beliefs and skills that supports students’ abilities to feel good about themselves, and build confidence. In this blog, we will examine additional tools with which to reinforce these skills and beliefs, and increase confidence. Additionally, we will explore the ways in which increased confidence will contribute to students’ abilities to persevere when they encounter difficulties, and advocate for themselves when necessary.

A number of factors contribute to students’ levels of confidence. Let’s begin with self-acceptance. First, it is helpful for students to remember that they can determine the criteria they use to choose whether or not to accept themselves. They can choose to determine their acceptability by external standards, emphasized by the media. In doing so, they need to understand that they would be using criteria over which they have little control. Additionally, these external factors are not their most important characteristics.

Students can be reminded that they can choose to accept themselves as they are. They can focus on and take pride in internal qualities over which they do have control, such as kindness, generosity and honesty. To reinforce this, students can be asked to develop a poem, song, or rap, listing all their best internal qualities. Additionally, they could draw a heart and fill the heart with images of these qualities.

Next, students can be reminded of the importance of measuring themselves fairly. We can be our harshest critics, or our best cheerleaders. In order to be as self-supporting as possible, it is important to let go of the assumption that we must be perfect. Students can be reminded to embrace the understanding that all we can do is the best we can do. This can be reinforced by having them create a poster with words and images to represent this saying.

Sometimes, aiming for unachievable perfection can lead students to be afraid of making mistakes. It is helpful for them to develop a growth mindset, understanding that they are capable of improving and that mistakes are an important part of learning, not an indictment of their abilities. This can be reinforced by having them draw a picture with their non-dominant hand, working on enjoying the process, rather than aiming for a mistake-free end result.

Additionally, students can be reminded to take pride in their achievements. They can learn to take pride in the effort they have put in, as well as the growth they have made, no matter how small. It is self-supporting to notice and feel good about progress as it is being made, rather than waiting until a task has been completed. This can be reinforced by having students make a growth chart, visually tracking their progress in a variety of areas. Also, students can make a pride jar, writing down things they are proud of on pieces of paper and putting them in the jar.

When students can accept themselves as they are; measure themselves fairly; notice and appreciate small, ongoing gains, they then have the tools and understanding to keep trying when challenged. They can persevere even when they struggle, instead of assuming that they will never succeed and giving up. They can be helped to understand that they do not have a crystal ball and cannot accurately predict the future as one of failure.

Students will be able to embody a growth mindset, knowing the likelihood of success with continued work and time. This mindset can be reinforced by having students create a role-play or a pantomime, representing their successful completion of their end goal. They can also draw a picture to reinforce this image – what we envision, we can bring to fruition. Additionally, students can develop their own mantra or cheer to keep them moving forward, along the lines of “I think I can”, from the book “The Little Engine That Could”.

As students increase their ability to be self-supporting, helping them address challenges from within, they can speak up and advocate for themselves when challenged from the outside. Students can be given opportunities to practice their assertiveness skills addressed in a previous blog. They can role-play using I messages to respectfully share their feelings and needs with both adults and peers. They can be reminded of the importance of standing up for their rights, creating cartoons of effective responses in various situations, such as being bullied.

Providing your students with the understanding and skills we explored will greatly contribute to the development of strong, confident boys and girls. Your students will be ready to successfully address challenges, persevere, and stand up for themselves.

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