WTN SEL Routines, as part of systemic, transformative social-emotional learning, embed co-learning practices that translate to holistic and connected school communities.
My Keys: Unlocking Your Potential with the Big Five Abilities
My Keys is both a tool aligned with the five CASEL Core Competencies—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making—and a routine for common language and cross-curricular connections to SEL.
Where SEL is the key to unlocking student potential, My Keys engages metacognition as students consider and reflect on the competencies unlocked in the context of daily demands such as academic tasks and social situations.
Routines like My Keys support a mindset of co-learning and whole-child education, where SEL extends beyond the scope of a lesson to become infused throughout teaching practices and school climate.
The My Keys tool, pictured here, is a graphic representation of the five CASEL Core Competencies. This visual reminder supports ongoing discussion and investigation throughout the school day. As teachers and students engage with content and with each other, they also examine the following throughout their co-learning journey:
Planning—Which keys will I need here?
How will these keys help me to move forward?
Reflecting—Which keys did I use?
What worked and what might I do differently next time?
Think of My Keys as threaded together on a ring that represents wellbeing. We need all of these to unlock a variety of skills that improve our quality of life. Over time, students and adults recognize that these keys don’t work in isolation. However, they may find it more challenging to use some keys in certain situations. This awareness is part of the metacognitive process and encourages growth as we assess, reflect, and persist.
The My Keys routine zeroes in on the process of thinking about your thinking. Consistent use of this routine promotes awareness, questioning, planning, and reflecting.
From a bird’s eye view, students learn and internalize My Keys through a gradual release of responsibility with the
I do—We do—You do model.
Teacher model and think aloud.
Scaffold and prompt.
Independence with occasional support for continued growth.
My Keys uses student-facing visuals and language. For example, the poster refers to the CASEL Core Competencies as the Big Five Abilities. Students rely on the Big Five to navigate every day. As a tool, My Keys helps students identify and reflect on their skills and abilities. This points them in the direction of success and promotes self-efficacy.
My Keys also uses accessible language to summarize each of the CASEL 5 so students can digest meaning and relate abilities to their experience.
The first Core Competency is Self-Awareness, defined for students as knowing about yourself. Noticing and naming your thoughts, feelings, qualities, and values. Some of the skills unlocked with this Key include identifying preferences and interests, identity, thoughts, emotions, values, mindset, and sense of purpose.
Self-Management is defined for students as using your tools to manage big thoughts and feelings AND taking positive actions even when it is difficult. Some of the skills unlocked with this Key include managing stress and emotion, self-discipline, goal setting, planning, and agency.
The Social Awareness Core Competency involves imagining yourself in another person’s shoes to understand more about them and how they might think or feel and respecting differences. Some of the skills unlocked with this Key include perspective-taking, empathy, gratitude, recognizing social norms and situational demands.
Relationship Skills involve being a good friend to others, being a trustworthy team member, and being respectful to adults and peers. Some of the skills unlocked with this Key include communication, teamwork, collaboration, resisting negative peer pressure, leadership, and standing up for others.
Finally, Responsible Decision-Making requires thinking things through and making good choices. Some of the skills unlocked with this Key include curiosity and open-mindedness, using accurate information to make thoughtful decisions, anticipating consequences, critical thinking and reflection.
The My Keys routine translates to ongoing SEL as teachers consider the skills required in activities across the curriculum and from various angles (teacher to student, student to teacher, student to student) and note which SE competencies they want to highlight with students. My Keys translates to formative assessment as teachers reserve specific times to stop, observe, and connect with students about the keys they are using throughout the day. As teachers weave My Keys into their practice, they hone their awareness, improve their pedagogy, and continue to develop their own social-emotional competency.
My Keys infuses the school day with SEL to support teachers and students as community members, co-learners, and leaders.
Professional Development: Training with the author
Dawn also offers live video and in-person PD support the startup process. In these sessions, Dawn tours the tools and process for integrating the My Keys routine. Live presentations allow participants to ask questions and receive advice specific to their setting and student population.
- In-person (local communities on the North Shore of MA)
- Live Zoom