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Knowing Ourselves and Knowing Our Students

Knowing Ourselves and Knowing Our Students

By Jeanette Simenson


Think back to when you were a child. Did you have a diary, an art notebook, something that you could doodle in to help you think, calm down, or just have some time to yourself?

There is power in creating space for yourself to do what is necessary to really find out who you are and how you react to situations.

I have seen my own children be so proud of the work they do in their art notebooks and their diaries. When they have come up with a new idea, art work, or writing piece, they share it with the people around them. They share their strengths and aspirations through these authentic reflections.


Now, think back to a moment in time when you were challenged. What helped you focus your thoughts and emotions?

Maybe you read, binge watched shows, created artwork, or wrote your thoughts. All of these activities can calm the mind and help you focus on the challenge at hand.

In fact, when people reflect back on their experiences, they are better able to take a step back from the emotions and consider alternative solutions or perspectives.

When we share our reflections and perspectives with others, whether it be through writing or speaking, we expand their experiences and create opportunities to get “feed-forward”—the process of sharing your solutions or experiences with others and allowing them to give you their perspectives and questions to help you move forward.

Critical Friend

Imagine if you have a critical friend who could read your journals or listen to your thoughts while continuing the process of feed forward with you on a regular basis.

Not only does this allow you to put into words what you are thinking and feeling, but you are able to take a step back and perceive the words at a later date when you are not feeling so emotionally charged.

Then, your critical friend can also provide support and encouragement. This makes the relationship even stronger.

Research says that when students experience a sense of belonging to their school and have supportive relationships with other students and teachers, they are motivated to achieve academic success, and exhibit higher levels of social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment.

Strong Relationships

How can we create strong relationships with students when we have so much to do and we teach 150 students in a typical middle or high school classroom?

One way can be with journaling and feed forward.

When students are given the opportunity to write how they feel about situations and challenges, they can receive critical support from their teachers through their journals. They will build strong relationships with educators that in turn will support their academic success and motivation.

Journaling can be done through writing, audio, and video in the Thirvely reflections that are in the Lessons and Playlists as well as in the Projects.

Take time out of each day or week to create a space for journaling and reflecting. It may even turn out to be the best part of each day for both you and your students.