1. Using a story to discuss self-esteem

Self-esteem is a major key to success in life. If you feel good about who you are, you have more confidence to join in with others, to make new friends and face new situations.

As a teacher, you play a crucial role in developing pupils’ self-esteem through the way you interact with them. You need to be sensitive towards pupils’ feelings and emotions, and you need to be careful about what you say and how you speak to them.

It is important to be positive and encouraging, praising them for their hard work and achievements and using kind words wherever possible. Try to catch them being good, rather than looking out for bad behaviour. This does not mean that you do not have to discipline pupils, but how you do this is crucial if you wish to maintain a positive working relationship with them.

It is always useful to start off a new topic by finding out what your pupils already know. Ask them for ideas about self-esteem – you may be surprised at the variety of answers they come up with.

Case Study 1 and Activity 1 show how you can use a story in different ways to explore an idea such as self-esteem.

Case Study 1: Addressing issues of self-esteem

John Nvambo in Nigeria has a good relationship with his 36 Primary 4 pupils. One day, he noticed that not all of his pupils were contributing in class anymore. Some were now shy and withdrawn, and didn’t ask him questions. He also noticed that this was affecting their grades, so he decided to address the problem.

The next morning, John told the story of three children to help introduce the idea of self-esteem (see Resource 1: A story about self-esteem).

He then divided the class into three groups, A, B and C, directing each group to list the qualities of a person with either:

  • healthy self-esteem;
  • low self-esteem; or
  • overrated self-esteem.

Next, John organised them into threes, one from each group, to share their ideas before talking together as a class.

They were able to identify the different characteristics, and why they were good or bad for the individuals involved. From this, they were able to talk about how to get a balance of self-esteem by using an activity like the one in Activity 1.

Activity 1: Developing self-esteem

Adapt Resource 1 to help you with this activity.

  • Divide the class into groups. Call the groups either As or Bs.
  • Ask the A groups to help the arrogant boy develop balanced self-esteem.
  • Ask the B groups to help the boy with poor self-esteem to develop confidence.
  • Monitor group discussions to check that all pupils are participating.
  • After 15 minutes, match each A pupil with one B pupil. Ask the pairs to compare ideas and make suggestions for each other.
  • After ten minutes, have a class discussion about ideas for helping first the arrogant child and then the timid child.
  • Finally, as a class, list the main features of healthy self-esteem and how it helps pupils to gain from one another.

Did this activity have an impact on the behaviour of your pupils towards each other?

Section 4: Investigating self-esteem

2. Using role play