Self-evaluation is a learning process BRDO conference 24 – 28 September 2003 Workshop 2.2: Thursday afternoon Self-evaluation and building teacher’s and students’ self esteem Greta Bratovš and Nataša Privošnik Institute for Developing Personal Quality SLOVENIA TEACHERS’ COMPETENCES IN SUPPORTING STUDENTS’ SELF-ESTEEM A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL FOR DEVELOPING SELF-ESTEEM BY ROBERT W. REASONER Michael was an elementary student who always complained in school that the work was too hard. He had few friends, often criticized others and blamed others when things went wrong.. Academically he was two years behind the other students in his class. His teacher felt that he was bright enough but seemed to suffer from low self-esteem. Almost every teacher can identify students with characteristics similar to those of Michael. Today, approximately one-third of the students who enter school fail academically or compensate for their low self-esteem by becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, drop out of school, become pregnant as teenagers, suffer from depression or eating disorders, or engage in crime and violence. Thus, a large percentage of our youth fail to become productive citizens or reach their full potential. For this reason developing self-esteem is considered to be a critical element in any successful prevention or remediation program. There is general agreement that our society is undergoing tremendous change. Today’s youth face a far different and far more competitive world than their parents and grandparents. With unlimited information at their fingertips and extraordinary opportunities waiting to be tapped, they must possess a body of knowledge that is both broad and deep. They must know how to think critically, to solve complex problems, to work in teams and adapt to rapidly changing technology. They must be lifelong learners to keep up with the body of knowledge which now doubles every two or three years. This requires individuals who possess healthy, high self-esteem. Society has always valued the qualities of self-esteem including initiative, self-motivation, self-confidence, self-worth, and feelings of competence, qualities essential to effective human functioning, so this is not new. What is new is that we now know that individuals are not born with those qualities—they are developed when certain conditions are established at home and at school. Using this research the Building Self-Esteem program was created to develop these particular qualities and better prepare young people for this changing world. The program has now gone through 25 years of research, modification and implementation. What we have learned is that it is not possible to “give” others healthy self-esteem. We can make them feel good, but authentic, healthy self-esteem is more than just having happy feelings. This kind of self-esteem can only be developed when young people gain in their understanding of themselves, learn how to relate effectively with others, clarify the values they wish to live by, determine what they wish to achieve, and have opportunities to grow in effective decision making. The Building Self-Esteem program provides the means for accomplishing this. It is a flexible program that can be integrated into any subject at any level. Materials for students are in the form of a loose leaf binder that teachers can use in a variety of ways. Information is also available for school administrators in how to apply the model to the development of staff self-esteem and similar material is available for parents to implement the model at home. The program is designed to foster five concepts: a sense of security, a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and a sense of personal competence. The sense of security is fostered by treating young people with respect and establishing environments where individuals know what is expected of them and where they feel safe and protected. This means having clear rules, regulations and expectations and enforcing them in a consistent manner without intimidating or degrading students. Activities are provided as vehicles for discussion regarding rules and why they are important. Worksheets help students evaluate the degree to which they assume responsibility in different areas and enable them to see that they have the personal power to deal with their circumstances, and that they are not just victims. They are led to understand the consequences for their actions to encourage them to take responsibility for the decisions they make. Students also identify those situations that cause them to feel fearful or insecure and brainstorm ways of dealing with those situations. The sense of identity is important for we behave in ways that are consistent with how we see ourselves. This is sometimes referred to as the pygmalian concept or the self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, individuals who see themselves as frequently being in trouble actually feel more comfortable acting out that role. Those who see themselves as not lovable tend to reject others before they themselves are rejected. Efforts to develop a positive identity require that students feel secure and accepted or loved by those adults with whom they work. Individuals have a basic need to feel a sense of personal worth. Having a teacher, a parent or grandparent, or someone that really cares is important in developing that sense of personal significance and worth. When individuals feel secure and begin to develop the sense of personal worth they are more open to accept the reality of their unique strengths and weaknesses, and value their uniqueness. This is a first step to valuing the uniqueness of others. Thus, in the identity component students engage in self-evaluation to identify their strengths and weaknesses and consider how they might capitalize on their strengths. It is important that the feedback they receive be based on reality to avoid inflated egos. Positive recognition or praise is important, but it needs to be earned and not given out lavishly without reason. Major emphasis is given in this component to the development of communication skills by sharing personal feelings, learning how to listen, and expressing oneself effectively. The sense of belonging or connectness is the third element. It is of great significance since feeling rejected by others is perhaps the greatest detriment toed self-esteem. We all want to feel that we belong, to feel accepted and supported by others. We need to feel that we are part of an organization or a group that is larger than ourselves. Being a member of a winning team or a special organization is one way of providing this feeling. Studies of adolescents who commit violence to their classmates indicate that one common factor is that all of these individuals felt alienated from their peers. Hence, schools need to provide opportunities for students to connect or bond with others and learn the social skills that enable them to work cooperatively and in harmony with others. The Building Self-Esteem program provides multiple experiences for students to become better acquainted with one another and to engage in projects that benefit others. One of the keys to self-esteem is feeling valued by others. Students are thus encouraged to be of service to others for this is a great way to feel valued and appreciated. Activities are also designed to help students understand when it is important to act as an individual and make a personal decision versus when it is important to see oneself as a member of a group. Students are given multiple opportunities to talk about situations when it is important to say “No” as an individual and take a personal stand to avoid engaging in activities such as smoking, teen sex, or drugs. The fourth step in fostering self-esteem is building a sense of purpose. We need to feel that the work we do and the life we lead has meaning and purpose. This can only come about when we are clear about our values and what is most important to us. Personal effectiveness and satisfaction come about when effort is directed to what is significant, so young people need to see the relevance of what they are studying and direct their efforts to achieve specific goals. Parents and teachers can contribute to this sense of purpose by helping young people create visions of what they want to achieve or what kind of person they wish to become. A sense of integrity develops when individuals are clear about their values and see the value of behaving in ways that are consistent with those values. Hence, there are multiple activities to encourage students to identify those characteristics they admire most in others and those values they want to live by. The fifth step is designed to develop the sense of personal competence. This comes about as individuals make progress toward their goals. Teachers and those in supervisory positions can assist in this step by pointing out options and possible ways of achieving the goals that have been set and by providing encouragement, support and feedback. As individuals learn how to use the resources available to them to achieve their goals, they grow in the sense of personal competence. As they begin to make decisions for themselves and successfully accomplish what they set out to do, it fosters feelings of competence. The final step in this process is celebrating success and giving recognition to what individuals have accomplished, thus reinforcing those feelings of competence. As these steps are recycled, individuals grow in personal effectiveness and self-esteem. They become internally motivated, see multiple ways of solving problems, and become less dependent upon others to solve problems for them. They become more open to challenges and the stimulation of worthwhile goals and demonstrate more initiative in taking command and control of their lives. Research has proven that with high self-esteem individuals are also less anxious and less threatened by those who appear different from them. This enables them to work more effectively with others and enjoy working in harmony with others. This is a critical skill for the future if we ever hope to achieve global peace. The Building Self-Esteem program has proven to be highly successful in enabling both students and adults to achieve at remarkably high levels of functioning. For example, as a result of this program Michael went on to graduate from the university with honors and became a highly successful petroleum engineer. Research studies have documented that schools using the program have increased attendance and academic achievement, and have reduced teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, motivated students to become lifelong learners, and reduced discipline problems by 30-50%. The program has been translated into six different languages and is now being widely used not only in the United States but also in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Australia, Canada, Finland, Argentina, Canada as well as Slovenia. The BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM ON A SCHOOLWIDE BASIS PROJECT The Institute for Developing Personal Quality is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It’s goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of self-esteem & personal responsibility as well as help people to increase their self-esteem and develop their potential in general. The Institute has presented the BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS PROGRAM in the year 1999. To implement the program, the Institute has since than trained over 280 mentors. The program produced impressive results in increasing personal responsibility and motivation for learning, improving interpersonal skills and decreasing antisocial behaviour and violence in schools. The program is presently being implemented by mentors throughout the country. BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM ON A SCHOOLWIDE BASIS In the year 2002 we designed a project Building Self-Esteem on a Schoolwide Basis. The purpose of the project is to increase the level of self-esteem among slovenian students by implementing the Building Self-Esteem program in selected schools on a schoolwide basis. This program, developed by Robert Reasoner, with over 25 years of research behind it, provides manuals and teaching materials for elementary and secondary school students, with supplementary materials for administrator’s and parents. A student Self-Esteem Inventory for assessment accompanies the program. The results of it's implementation (after 3 years) showed improvement in all aspects of school activities: student interest in school and after school activities raised, less discipline and social problems were registered and the number of students at risk dropped for 50%; the school climate in general improved which was also followed by the improvement of staff/teachers self-esteem. One of the included schools was elected for the best U.S.school of the Year. DESCRIPTION The purpose of this project is to increase the level of self-esteem and sense of personal responsibility among slovenian students, as well as among their parents and teachers. Increasing the awareness of the broather community and general public is also part of the project. With the above stated purpose a series of workshops for students – which are the central part of the project – being conducted by specially qualified mentors. Beforehand, training for mentors is organized. Simultaneously with the implementation of a series of workshops for students, workshops for school-staff and workshops for parents, as well as presentations for the local communities are organized. TARGET GROUP The program focuses on three target groups simultaneously. ¨ The primary target group are students in 6 primary and 1 secondary school, 12 to 19 years old. ¨ The second target group are all the staff members on these schools, with special emphasis on teachers that will be mentors for implementation of the program. ¨ The third target group are parents of the mentioned students. ¨ Beside that, the project aims also at increasing the awareness of the local community members as well as of neighbouring schools and their communities. INVOLVEMENT OF TARGET GROUP The program includes a series of workshop materials to be implemented in classes or other groups of school children, consisting of using worksheets, discussions and sharing experience. All the schools have already attended a two days training aimed at increasing the school staff awareness on self-esteem and its components. One third of the teachers are going to be trained as mentors. Presentations and workshops are going to be organized for parents and school staff, with the aim of supporting and developing their own self-esteem. So students, school staff and parents are going to be actively involved in the process of building their own self- esteem & personal responsibility. Members of local comunities as well as representatives of neighboring schools and communities are going to be invited to a presentation of the project. AIMS OF PROJECT Organizing the awareness seminar for school staff Organizing the mentor training for teachers Assessment of Staff Self-esteem Issuing information leaflets and information booklet Organizing a presentation on the importance of self-esteem & personal responsibility for local communities and general public Conducting series of workshops for students Organising workshops for school staff Organising workshops for parents GOALS TO BE ACHIEVED In terms of social change the project will contribute to decrease antisocial and deviant behaviour, increase self- esteem, motivation, personal responsibility, social skills and relations especially by students, but also by school staff and parents. EXPECTED FOLLOW-UP The follow up is going to be the overall evaluation of the project and the presentation of the possibility of extending this project to other schools and regions. Beside that, the project generates mentors and instructors of the Building Self-Esteem program, which are bound to implement the program at least two years after the end of the project. Mentors are using the program materials in their daily work with students. From their feed-back we know that the program has very positive influence on students, the teaching process and teacher-student relationship. So the continuation of the program is assured. In co-operation with the author, Robert Reasoner and the experts from the slovenian university, the Institute is developing new methods, trying to improve and adapt the program to our culture. One of the results of the program is also the information/research of the level of self-esteem in the school environment, among slovenian youth. This will help to persuade state officials in a necessity of the implementation of such program on the national level.
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