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Implementing Core Competencies of SEL: Self-Awareness and Self-Management

As we come to understand the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in our education system, it is necessary to provide adequate resources to our teachers. Now more than ever, educators are well aware of the social and emotional needs of their students, and they need quality professional training and real implementation advice. 

As a follow-up to our complete overview of what SEL is and how to weave it into academics, this article will take a closer look at two of the five core competencies from the CASEL framework—self-awareness and self-management—and provide examples of what they may look like in the classroom. 


Self-awareness covers the skills students must learn to understand their own emotions, thoughts, and values, as well as how they influence their own behavior. This includes the ability to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses and form a strong sense of self-confidence and purpose. 

Some examples of self-awareness include integrating identity, being able to identify emotions, understanding one’s own values and purpose, and having a growth mindset. Essentially, self-awareness encompasses one’s awareness of their own inner experience and how it impacts their outward expression in the world. 

Self-awareness looks like:

  • Being able to identify one’s own emotions, thoughts, and needs
  • Labeling and recognizing emotions
  • Understanding how emotions affect behavior
  • Recognizing strengths and areas of weakness to see where growth is needed
  • Building self-confidence and optimism 

In the classroom, we can help students cultivate self-awareness in the following ways:

  • Providing tools for identifying emotions & needs and encouraging discussions around them
  • Modeling self-awareness and outwardly labeling one’s own emotions 
  • Increasing discussion around how emotions affect behavior
  • Helping students recognize their strengths and celebrating them
  • Putting students in positions where they can utilize their strengths 
  • Using instructional data to help students identify their areas of weakness and showing them where they can focus on improvement
  • Empowering students to use their strengths so they can build confidence
  • Cultivating an environment where growth is encouraged by providing opportunities for and celebrating improvement 
  • Creating individualized learning plans for students so they are aware of where they can improve

The skills that students will build when their teachers incorporate self-awareness in their instruction will apply to all aspects of their lives and future careers. Their emotions and needs in all areas of their lives are closely linked, and tools for building self-awareness are invaluable in their overall development and academic success. 


Self-management describes one’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and be able to achieve their goals. This encompasses goal setting and achievement, stress management, planning, organization, and motivation. Providing students with the tools necessary to learn these skills is imperative for their overall success.  

Greater Good in Education defines self-management as “the ability to navigate and shift one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a healthy way in order to make decisions and reach goals that benefit oneself and others.” This definition is important because it reminds us that we need tools that go beyond self-awareness and strategies that help us manage our thoughts and emotions so that we can make productive choices and not get stuck or overwhelmed by them. 

Self-management looks like:

  • The ability to regulate and express emotions in a productive way
  • Being able to overcome challenges and persevere through difficult situations
  • Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries
  • Accepting and incorporating constructive criticism 
  • Effective goal setting
  • Self-advocacy

In the classroom, we can help students cultivate self-management in the following ways:

  • Establishing a safe space for students to express themselves
  • Providing growth opportunities that are in line with students’ individual needs 
  • Attention to DOK when assessing individual students
  • Providing opportunities for students to engage in constructive peer feedback and collaboration
  • Working with students to set, monitor, and reach realistic goals 
  • Creating one-on-one check-ins with students and encouraging them to bring attention to their concerns

Self-management skills are critical in establishing healthy habits that promote a positive relationship with progress monitoring in all areas of life. It is important to note that self-awareness and self-management are very closely tied together and should be incorporated equally in an educational setting. 

For a deeper look at all aspects of social and emotional learning and how Progress Learning can support implementation, see our complete overview, Fostering Social and Emotional Learning in an Academic Setting

If you would like more specific tools for goal setting, see our blog post, Empowering Students through Goal Setting and Building Accountability. 

Request a demo to see how we can support your students’ social and emotional learning.

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