Supporting Self-Advocacy and Self-Awareness

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To explore the role self-awareness plays in opportunities for students to advocate for themselves and others in remote and hybrid learning environments. 

The estimated time for this activity is 15–20 minutes.

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In order to support Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Learning Environments, we must be able to capitalize on our students’ unique backgrounds, identities, and learning differences to support student growth academically and emotionally. We can leverage students’ unique perspectives to help students understand themselves, their needs, and how to advocate for those needs and those around them. In accordance with NYSED’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Learning Environment Framework, by doing so we will provide:

  • “opportunit[ies] to learn about perspectives beyond one’s own scope . . . [working] toward dismantling systems of biases and inequities, and decentering dominant ideologies in education.”

According to Teaching Students to Self-Advocate During Distance Learning, “teachers are finding ways to gauge students’ understanding of [remote] lessons this year, and guiding them to ask for help is a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

Stop & Think

Key: T — Teachers, SL — School Leaders, DL — District Leaders

  • How does self-awareness support students’ ability to advocate for their learning and cultural differences? (T, SL, DL) 
  • What role does self-advocacy play in student achievement? (T, SL, DL)
  • What opportunities do teachers in your school/district have to advocate for their own learning and cultural differences? (SL, DL)
  • What opportunities do teachers in your school/district have to advocate for their students’ learning and cultural differences? (SL, DL)

Take Action

Support students’ capacity for self-awareness and develop opportunities for self-advocacy by using one or more of the Executive Function Surveys below. “The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal.” By identifying their executive function skills, students will explore personal strengths, differences, and what makes them unique. This awareness will support student understanding of multiple perspectives and their ability to self-advocate in a remote or hybrid learning environment. Ultimately, a sustained effort toward increasing self-awareness and self-advocacy will result in an increase in students’ capacity for empathy.

Explore the surveys below, adapted from Edquiddity’s MyQPortal, and choose one to give to your students. You may want to modify the survey, or share it with students as is. The questions in the survey can be shared through an online survey, put into a table that students type into, or completed during a 1:1 or small-group video conference.

After they have identified their executive function skills, encourage students to set goals and track their progress. You may want to consider the Learning Dashboard, found in Failing Forward Is What Matters: Strength-Based Thinking in a Remote/Hybrid Environment from Module 2 to help students track and reflect on their progress. Provide opportunities for students to leverage their awareness by creating and running student-led initiatives, empowering them to be agents of positive change in their learning environments, schools, and communities.