Developing the “I Can” Attitude

Our guest blogger, Peggy James, blogs weekly for The Gateway. Self-esteem is an essential quality of a successful student. A[…]Continue Reading

Our guest blogger, Peggy James, blogs weekly for The Gateway.

Self-esteem is an essential quality of a successful student. A student without confidence in their own ability to learn will not learn to their full potential. A student without self-confidence can be an easy target for bullies and will seldom take risks reaching out socially or academically. Taking these types of chances gives students opportunities to grow, so this growth is limited in kids with a lower self-esteem.

By integrating ideas of acceptance, tolerance, and personal safety into our daily teaching, we can arm students with the confidence to learn anything. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t–you’re usually right.” This week, I am looking at resources and activities that will help students think they can.

Joann introduces three resources in her column (linked below) to help you include the study of self-esteem in your classroom. She presents an interesting discussion about finding quality lessons that aren’t too “fluffy” or “touchy-feely.” 

Although slightly on the “touchy-feely” side, I really like the visual reminders about self-esteem from the book, “Have you filled a bucket today?” Learning to Give developed a self-esteem and anti-bullying lesson based on the book. Their lesson, Buckets of Kindness is a nice introduction to the topic and the bucket theme can be carried on throughout the year in discussions of self-esteem, kindness, and bullying.


Since every group of students is different, I recommend searching the Gateway for a perfect self-esteem curriculum for you. There are all different types. My initial search for self-esteem pulled up these 79 resources. Remember that you can narrow your search many different ways to find just what you need.

Are you interested in a high school lesson? Narrow your search by grade to find something like Chalk it Up: Self-Esteem, an activity that uses events and themes from the classic story of the Three Little Pigs to explore the topic.

Do your students need an activity that gets them moving? Narrow your search by subject area (physical education) to find resources like Self-Esteem Builder from PE Central.

There are many different ways to narrow your search, so I’ll let you find what’s right for you. As you prepare to teach the topic, you may want to read the following inspirational poem. Good luck developing self-esteem in your students this week!

The Victor by C. W. Longenecker

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are out classed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Joann’s companion column: