Friday, March 23, 2012

Assessing personal growth - what is your SOaP score?

To calculate your SOaP score, the word "care" must be used as a verb - to be concerned for, or to make provision for.

Making one's mark in life should involve the caring or providing for oneself and others.  Where could people demonstrate or perform care?  Can habits of caring be measured in order to advance personal growth?   The acronym, SOaP puts a focus of assessment on three areas of caring; Self, Others, and Places.

The challenge of this growth assessment is to identify and measure the degree in which care is being performed or demonstrated.  Current teaching philosophy and best-practices rely on frequent practice with metacognition - or knowledge of one's knowledge or performance.  This could include, self-evaluation, peer-evaluation, and reflective practices.  Progress can be quantified by clear learning objectives, frequent, formative assessments, and scoring rubrics that monitor skill development towards mastery.

SOaP self-assessment, is going to be based upon the time-tested, and popular, ten-point scale.  Start by earning one point for performing "a" soap self-assessment.  This one point is not to be minimized, as we are looking to make self assessment and self-reflection a daily practice or habit.  That leaves nine additional points to be divided amongst three categories of growth; caring for self, caring for others, and caring for places.
a = assessment of growth, 1 point possible

First off, care for self (S).  Personal growth philosophy suggests that each day is an opportunity to grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Physical growth and wellness can should be developed and maintained in the form of a daily regimen of healthy habits.  These habits should include; appropriate and consistent periods of sleep and / or rest, physical exercise that includes cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training, along with a nutrient-rich diet that includes hydration, whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.  One point is scored for a conscious effort at daily physical wellness.

Another point towards the care for self score can be obtained by undertaking activities that exercise our brains both logically and creatively.  Making a habit of learning on a daily basis is at the heart of caring for self.  Research has shown that reading, and expanding vocabulary are essential habits associated with learning and intelligence.  Puzzles, logic games, problem-solving can be used sharpen our minds and strengthen our brains.  Strong brains are dense, heavy brains that contain keys to overall health and happiness.  Care for self should include daily brain exercise to foster intellectual growth.

Care for self should also include daily attention to our emotional growth and well-being.  Prayer, meditation, and quiet reflection are examples of practices that can enhance or stabilize emotions.  A recent study concluded that students who practice daily meditation perform better on standardized achievement tests.  Many mental health professionals contend that practicing activities just for their enjoyment can be emotionally fulfilling food for the soul.  Playing the piano, painting a seascape, or tending to a vegetable garden are examples of activities that people might undertake just because they are emotionally nurturing and satisfying.
S = daily growth and care for self (physical, intellectual, emotional), 3 points possible

Next, let's consider care for others. (O)  Think of this area of growth in terms of concentric circles.  The inner circle would be made up of loved ones, immediate family and close friends.  Practicing a daily habit of making these people feel cared for and special earns you an O point.  Why do people tend to save their worst language and actions for those closest to them.  Make a daily habit of saving your kindest words, manners, and actions for those who deserve them - your loved ones.

You can earn another O point for caring for people that you know at school or work.  Make it a daily habit to build trust and respect with these people.  Give more kindness than people expect with your daily interactions.  Do this consistently, and you will quickly find people reciprocating your care in unexpected and supportive ways.

A third O point can be earned by showing kindness to strangers. Make it a daily habit to do something nice for someone that you don't know.  Something as simple as a smile and a wave could brighten a previously bleak day.  The "pay it forward" concept has shown proven positive results in some communities that make kindness and care a social norm.
O = daily care and support for others (loved ones, acquaintances, strangers), 3 points possible

Finally, care for our places (P).  Making provisions and caring for places means leaving them in an improved state.  Once again, concentric circles could be used to map out the degree of caring for places.  The inner circle would include caring for, maintaining, and improving the home, workplace, or classroom.  Those places that are occupied most on a daily basis deserve daily attention.  It only takes a moment or two to leave a bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom in an improved condition.  Prepare these areas for the next occupant - they will notice the effort and reciprocate your care.

Next, show care for the common areas that you use around the community.  Respect personal property and promote natural beauty.  Picking up stray trash, and helping to keep areas around our communities neat, safe, and welcoming constitute another level of caring for our places.

Being "green", or environmentally conscious is satisfies a third circle in our care of places.  Care for our planet could mean recycling reusable materials, conserving water, and being energy efficient on a daily basis.  These practices earn another point for places.  Additionally, these practices benefit everyone in one way or another.
P = daily care of our places (personal, community, global), 3 points possible

Nobody is perfect, and daily attainment of a perfect SOaP score is not realistic.  But if the emphasis is to make an effort at daily perpetual growth - some amazing things become possible.

I have made it a daily habit to take a moment when I awaken each morning to anticipate how I will use the coming day to care for myself, others, and my places.  I also take a moment before going to sleep at night to reflect on my day, calculate my SOaP score, and put some positive thought into how I did my best to not waste the "gift" of the day.

Reflecting on my SOaP score each day reminds me that time is a non-renewable resource that can often be taken for granted.  SOaP helps me be time efficient and effective.  SOaP reminds me that I can be like a tree - regardless of age, I can grow a little more, and a little better each day.  Most importantly, SOaP reminds me that I should use my own growth practices to promote and nurture growth in others.

S = care for self - 3 points possible
O = care for others - 3 points possible
a = assessment of care (self-reflection), 1 point possible
P = care for places, 3 points possible

On a scale from one to ten... how much, and how well, did you grow today?




Here is a form to help you calculate today's SOaP score.

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