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“Continuously Developing Caring Mindfulness”

Consciousness encourages students to look inward to become self-aware, value psychological diversity, and counter the barriers that prevent upstanding behaviors. By understanding the social-emotional skills to identify the influential factors (i.e., personality, identity, values, culture, motives) affecting themselves and their peers at school, students understand how to engage in complex caring actions to benefit a peer and/or their entire team.  By increasing their awareness of how both individual identity and cultural contexts influence their caring actions, participants become more mindful of how to tailor caring behaviors to individual, team, and community needs. Using an experiential learning model, students translate this knowledge into skills and skills into caring actions.

The Consciousness framework has three programs: self-awareness, psychological diversity, and upstanding. 

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Self-Awareness

Research shows empathy has declined among young people for the past four decades.  Equally concerning is the rise of narcissism among youth.  The quality of peer relationships are declining.  Perhaps these statistics among other disturbing trends inform the philosophy of psychologist Tasha Eurich, who writes in Insight that “Self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century.”  

The facilitated workshop of Self-Awareness uses an innovative psychological self-assessment tool for participants to understand their own thinking styles (analytical, structural, social, and conceptual) and behaving styles (expressiveness, assertiveness, and flexibility).  Students also learn to provide feedback to one another in order to develop goodness friendships and gain critical insights from their peers.

Psychological Diversity (Other-Awareness)

Diversity of thought and behavior in teams leads to better outcomes.  When diverse teams lack understanding of these psychological differences, conflict is likely and under-performance is nearly guaranteed.  In fact, homogeneous teams perform better than diverse teams when diverse team members cannot harness these differences as strengths.  As a result, diverse team members should learn the science of the self and teams.

This facilitated workshop of Psychological Diversity enhances other-awareness, counters implicit biases, and leverages cognitive/ behavioral diversity of team members to enhance team functioning. Ultimately, this leads to a better understanding of how thinking style’s influence actions, communication, and relationships.

Upstanding

School climate and culture change when caring from bystanders, in the form of upstanding, occurs by more students. For decades, researchers have focused on bystanders who observe harmful situations, such as bullying, harassment, or threats of violence.  These situations only reflect the prevention side of the upstanding coin.  Promotive situations also benefit from upstanding by students. These include moments when someone is caring or helpful, which offers an opportunity for peer recognition.  In fact, to change school culture, upstanding must occur for all situations, including the good and bad.

The facilitated workshop has three different tracks for three types of mindsets: mixed, preventive, and promotive mindsets.  Participants complete a psychological self-assessment to determine the mixed/promotive/preventive mindset of trainees and are then placed into groups based on their mindsets.  

The mixed upstanding track focuses on students who neither prefer preventive or promotive thinking. These students are best equipped to switch between upstanding to recognize good behaviors and upstanding to prevent harmful actions.

The preventive track encourages preventive-minded upstanders to look for harmful actions, understand the physical and psychological barriers inhibiting upstanding behavior, and ultimately put into practice the actions that prevent harm.  For example, while observing the need to intervene to reduce conflict from escalating and eliminate future problems, training provides students with a greater understanding of their own consciousness and cognitive barriers to upstanding. As a result, students are more likely to overcome the cognitive barrier and effectively intervene on behalf of their peer.

The promotive track encourages promotive-minded upstanders to look for kind actions and then follow similar upstanding steps. Increased mindfulness helps students overcome the psychological barriers of upstanding, which increases the likelihood of seeing and then thanking someone for caring actions.

These tracks offer an upstanding program which leverages the psychological strengths of participants so that collective efforts result in less problems/risks and more aspirations/assets at school.

 

CONSCIOUSNESS - MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM MODEL

Students address climate issues and develop their understanding and application of character strengths by participating in an adaptation of the experiential learning model, as well as integration of Cor Foundation’s Building Caring Actions program model.

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Experience Stage

Program participants are introduced to the lesson plan’s character strength (i.e., courage, gratitude, recognition, understanding) and how the character strength relates to other strengths from the Cor Foundation’s Building Caring Actions model. Participants develop an understanding of how the performer, receiver, and upstander of a caring action relate to the lesson’s particular character strength. During this stage, students also participate in an activity to immerse themselves in an experience related to the lesson’s character strength.

Goals – Define character strength, identify performer, receiver, and upstander’s use of character strength, experience benefit of character strength

Share Stage

Following the lesson’s character strength activity, students participate in a discussion to share with their peers their experience as either the performer, receiver, or upstander. For example, during the Courage lesson, performers will typically share if they felt discomfort, hesitance, or pride performing the courageous caring actions. Receivers will typically share positive feelings they experienced as a result of being the recipient of the courageous caring action. Upstanders frequently share their experience of observing the performance of the courageous caring action.

Goals – Perspective taking, empathy

Process Stage

After students hear from their peers, Character Coaches guide students through discussion questions to further reflect on their individual experiences with the lesson’s character strength.

Goals – meaning-making

Generalize Stage

After completing personal reflections and hearing peer reflections, participants generalize their experiences with the lesson’s character strength activity to real-world applications. Character Coaches challenge participants to create examples of how the character strength can be demonstrated through behaviors in various contexts (e.g., with friends, in classrooms, and at home). Character Coaches end the lesson by giving students Character Challenges. Character Challenges are behavioral applications of the lesson’s character strength. Students are encouraged to complete their Character Challenges prior to the following lesson plan. Character Challenges are divvied up based on a particular role (i.e., performer, receiver, upstander) students might play in real life in relation to a caring action.  

Goals –Identify applications of character strength beyond lesson plan

Apply Stage

During this stage, students are practicing the particular Character Challenge(s) they received from their Character Coaches. The Character Challenges facilitate participants’ self-confidence to perform caring actions across settings.

Goals – Performance of caring actions, build self-confidence to perform caring actions consistently

When caring leaders understand their own actions and consciousness, they are prepared to work on a team with others to create positive change.