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Intentional Practices to Build Students' Self-Awareness and Mindfulness

Students participate in “True North” practice to build presence and balance


A great deal of Valor’s social-emotional learning (SEL) works towards helping students find their True North. True North is one of Valor’s five Compass Disciplines and sits at the center of the Compass (Valor’s visual representation for growth and development). Valor’s idea of True North represents a sense of being centered – present and balanced – that is necessary for accurately finding one’s way in life.

Valor students practice finding their center through balance and presence. Valor educators believe students can find True North through intentional practice and skill building focused on increasing self-awareness. An example of True North practices is helping students distinguish between their inner world (thoughts, feelings, memories) and outer world (environment and people). The practices focus on recognizing the different worlds, as well as how students can build more awareness and focus within each. These activities are rooted in mindfulness practices and have been found to reduce stress, increase academic performance, support healthy social engagement, and increase joy in life. One of the core practices of True North is anchored in paying attention to one’s breath (awareness of it, feeling it move through the body, and paying attention to it when the mind wanders).

Students at Valor are exposed to True North practices in three different ways:

  • Circle - Students participate in a True North exercise as part of every Circle.
  • Compass Badge Work - Students move through a series of guided recordings focused on True North practices.
  • Compass Class - Students receive direct instruction and practice on True North practices.