CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional learning are leaders in the field of Social-Emotional Learning with their SEL framework.  The SEL framework centers around 5 competencies that offer areas of growth throughout one’s life:  Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. You can learn more about CASEL and SEL by visiting our OOPL SEL resources.


The Montgomery Virtual Program (MVP) resides in the Office of Organizational and Professional Learning within the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. We partner with districts and schools in Montgomery County and beyond to provide virtual learning opportunities for their students.  We are in our 7th year and have seen tremendous growth in enrollment that has remained constant, even long after pandemic school closures. 

MVP’s mission has focused around building partnerships with our local schools and districts while researching and partnering with premier virtual education companies to provide a well-rounded virtual curriculum and program offerings for our districts.  We know our mission has been successful.  This year, our team has expanded that mission to include a focus on creating opportunities for learning and engagement for our students, families, and partners beyond just our virtual curriculum.  As a team, we discussed specific challenges to engagement and learning that a student, parent, or school might encounter, and we began to create resources and opportunities to support our community around these challenges.  As we worked through the design and content of these resources, it became apparent that an intentional alignment of these resources and opportunities to a specific SEL competency provided an opportunity for us to not only support our community, but to foster growth in the important five SEL competency areas as defined by CASEL.  This post is the first in a five part series around our team’s mission to build resources around each of those competencies.

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According to CASEL, Self-Awareness is the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes the capacity to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Self-Awareness growth is exhibited in the ability to:

  • Integrate personal and social identities
  • Identify personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
  • Identify one’s emotions
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity
  • Link feelings, values, and thoughts
  • Examine prejudices and biases
  • Experience self-efficacy
  • Have a growth mindset
  • Develop interests and a sense of purpose

 How MVP is Fostering Self-Awareness Growth

MVP Orientation

Our team discussed challenges students might face when getting started with virtual learning.  What resources can we build to answer questions and offer support around our platform and monitoring student progress?

Our program has always hosted in-person or virtual orientation sessions for any districts or schools who requested these sessions, and we continue to do so when needed.  During COVID-19 Pandemic, the in-person sessions were not possible, so it was the perfect time to rethink our orientation offerings by adding our new MVP Orientation video.  This video:

  • Reaches ALL students because many cannot attend in-person or live sessions due to scheduling conflicts 
  • Is available on-demand for students to revisit as questions arise
  • Is sent to all students upon enrollment through our MVP Genius Student Information System and is linked on our website
  • Highlights important aspects of our platform and student experience, such as how to begin working on and submitting assignments
  • Highlights the student’s responsibility in their own learning success

Opportunities for Self-Awareness growth are fostered in:

  • Self-Efficacy
  • Having a growth mindset
  • Recognizing personal strengths and advocating for support when needed

Successful virtual students are proactive in their learning and communication while also Self-Aware of their need for support.  Our Orientation Video gives students the initial information needed to begin their school year.  It also provides them with clear expectations around their responsibility and ownership of their learning.  Students can proceed with the knowledge that support and tools are available when they need them.

Click here to view the MVP Orientation Video 

MVP Learning Coach Guide 

Our team discussed the questions and challenges of a Learning Coach (parent/guardian or adult responsible for supporting virtual students).  Do they have access to the resources needed to best support their learner?  Do they understand their role?

The MVP Learning Coach Guide is an interactive guide that Learning Coaches can complete in its intended sequential order, or they are able to self-select topics based on their current need at the time.   It provides learning coaches with specific areas of support such as: 

  • MVP programs and platform
  • Video tutorials
  • Clear outline of expectations 
  • Student support best practices
  • Tech and accessibility tips

Opportunities for Self-Awareness growth are fostered in:

  • Developing an interest and sense of purpose
  • Having a growth mindset
  • Recognizing personal strengths and advocating for support when needed
  • Self-Efficacy

By providing a better understanding of the Learning Coach role and expectations, our Learning Coach Guide supports Self-Awareness in our Learning Coaches and provides them with the support and resources needed to access on-demand when questions or challenges might occur.

Click here to view the MVP Learning Coach Guide

While we focused on MVP’s Orientation and the Learning Coach Guide, MVP addresses Self-Awareness through other resources and programs as well. Our goal in this series is to highlight how the SEL competencies can be a support in a virtual program and how these resources can be adapted for any school format. As this series continues, we will look at the other four Social Emotional Learning Competencies from the CASEL framework. 

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