Perfectly Perfect

After I finished writing this post last week, I came across Perfectly Imperfect by Beth Houf. Although our blog titles seem to contradict one another, I wholeheartedly believe that our imperfections actually make us perfect and that striving for perfection is one dangerous slope (that I know far too well). I love this quote from Beth: “You can take the beautifully broken pieces and put them together to create a masterpiece”. Yes, you can, and you are a masterpiece! Make sure you read her beautiful and powerful post, a reminder I believe we can all use!

It’s no secret that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial part of my classroom, I’ve written about it many times. It’s not something you can teach once and consider the job done, it’s an ongoing task and something we owe to our students. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of being a teacher. Some call these soft skills, I call them essential life skills. In my mind, no content is important if you don’t know how to be a good citizen or take care of yourself.

Part of SEL is understanding the impact of our words. That saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is full of baloney! Words can and will hurt… and not just words spoken to others, but words uttered to ourselves, too.

Here is one of my favourite lessons to help kids see the importance of positive self-talk, and an activity to help them get into the habit of doing it.

First, my class watches this powerful video, The Reflection in Me written by Marc Colagiovanni, art by Peter H. Reynolds.

We then have a discussion about what they noticed. What kind of words were spoken? Who was the child talking to? How did it change how the child felt?

After that, we watch the video again, and this time, I ask my students to pay particular attention to the examples of the positive self-talk in this video, and which examples might apply to them.

The students are then handed a blank piece of paper and are asked to write “Perfectly Perfect” in the center, contouring it however they wish. They then sketchnote of bunch of examples that make them perfectly perfect. There are no rules… want to use markers? Go for it! What to keep it simple with just a pencil? Yes! Whatever makes your heart smile, just show me, and everyone else, what makes YOU perfectly perfect.

Finally, the students are invited to take a picture of their sketchnote, post it on Seesaw, and add a voice caption as if they were talking to themselves, explaining why they are perfectly perfect. “You are perfectly perfect because…”

Here is one example:

“You are perfectly perfect ’cause your hair shines in the sun. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you’re smart. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you have shiny eyes. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you have a bright smile. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you can read. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you run fast. You are perfectly perfect ’cause you make good friends.”

I seriously had tears in my eyes while listening to all of my students’ responses, and I’m sure their parents and family members did, too. Here are a few more pictures:

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Such a simple, yet powerful activity. What makes you perfectly perfect?

If you are looking for more SEL lessons and activities to do in class, I hope that the following posts might inspire you!

Conscious Kindness Day #ConsciousKindness

Calm Down Breathing Strategies

Your Words Matter

Mental Health Matters #BellLetsTalk

Social Emotional Learning & Empathy #IMMOOC

You and your students might also be interested in joining the next round of Growth Mindset Read Aloud in January 2020, but in the meantime, feel free to check out the previous two rounds! Even though these rounds are over, the videos and questions are still up, and would make for fantastic discussions with your students!

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