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Social Emotional Skills: Start with Ourselves

With this sudden worldwide change due to COVID-19 pandemic, we are all out of "comfort zone" (no matter if we are in earlier or not). Losing jobs, social distancing, limited outdoor activities (less sunshine), harder to get food or housing, etc. Like this news article says, we are hit by physical health crisis wave, then economic crisis wave, but the next huge wave coming (already came) is the mental health crisis wave (source: The previous two waves are visible, but the mental health wave is not (yet). However, we FEEL it. I cannot say that the rioting or melt down that we experience at home now are directly influenced by the mental health crisis wave, but at this point, we need to be aware that we all need some spiritual remedy to filter out some negative feelings that we don't need.

SEL (Social Emotional Learning) is not new to us, but our education system seemed to neglect it in the past few years. Recently, it came back as a "supplement" that boosts school's images. Now we have to admit it: it is necessary that schools imbed SEL in daily instructions. It need to be written in the education policies. This is not adding work to educators, but to optimize the classroom and community environment. In CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)'s framework, there are 5 areas that enhances our capacity to integrate skills, attitude, and behaviors to function better ( The 5 areas are actually intertwined and cannot be taught alone. However, the easiest one that we could start with is self-awareness.

Too many learners that I met throughout my career so far are top-notch in their academics but have little knowledge about themselves. When it comes to job interviews or even daily conversations with a friend, they are stuck on some questions like: What do you like to do? What are you good at? So learning about ourselves is more important than anything else because it helps us define what kind of person we want to be, choose what my skills are when it comes to challenges, or avoid invisible danger on the way that we are not good at dealing with.

When I work with babies or preschoolers, I usually start with identifying emotions. So can grown-ups and those who are on the way to be grown-ups. Recognizing our own feelings and understanding why we feel that way is part of knowing ourselves. Below, I am sharing my self-awareness tool that you can use to start knowing about yourself. You might feel this is ridiculous or childish, or you might feel this is the hardest form ever to fill. However, after you complete it, you might find a new self.

I use this for the beginning of the school year and throughout, too. It is not just for classroom use, but also for family and for work. A lot of people feel it hard to fill in the beginning. That's because we don't know completely of ourselves yet. The highlight of this form is that we change items in the meantime. We are always growing up :)

How do we use the tool? If you are an educator, feel free to use it in your classroom. Try it in the beginning of the school year as a "Get to Know Me" Activity. The preschoolers and lower graders probably need adults help filling it in, but they could use pictures, emojis or anything they want to express their thoughts. If you are not in the classroom, you can use it as a self-awareness tool. The point is to know yourselves better and let the people around you know you better.

This form is called a Tic-Tac-Toe because it is like a game and you can win! Give yourself a timeframe (if in school, a school year; if not in school, a month, a season, you control it!), every time you hit a box, mark it with a date. For example, I want to decrease my screen time on my electronic devices to 1 hour a day and I am using my strategy "buddy". I like to do things with company and I feel having someone working with me make me more productive. So I ask a friend/family member to monitor my screen time, giving me reminds and support. And I did it! I use my electronic devices for less than 1 hour a day for this past whole week. So I can mark an "X" on my strategy and struggle (if you put that goal on your struggle). After you get 3 in a row (for the adults version 4 in a row), you get yourself a reward!

Hope this tool can help you as all roles to get to know yourself, have some fun, and boost self-confidence! To download, please visit

The elementary version is free to download. If you don't feel like purchasing the preteen or the adult version, DM me for download instructions :) I'm not trying to sell any products here :)

Be healthy and stay tuned for more blogs!

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