Building self-esteem and rapport on day one -part 2

Self-esteem matters! We’ve long known that when students feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to become better achievers in the classroom.

Rapport , on the other hand, provides the base from which learning can take place. The rapport between a teacher and their students as well as among the students,  plays a very important role in determining if the class will be successful and enjoyable. Students are often very hesitant to speak out in class for a variety of reasons. Questions go unasked and unanswered… students remain silent because they are afraid to lose their self- esteem by being put down in front of their classmates and peers.

“It is important for students not only to realize their own uniqueness but also feel accepted by their peers” (Reasoner, 1992, p. 46).

“Studies indicate that children who lack attention or feedback are apt to have poorer self- concepts than those who receive either positive or negative feedback on a regular basis” (Reasoner, 1992, pp. 4-5).

Task 1

Back to school




Our classroom door: a great way of boosting self esteem and positive attitudes in any classroom – and it livens up a dull door!


“Be” bulletin board – great way to encourage the character traits we wish to see in our students!I think this is really what we should be able to do: teach kids that don’t really know how to treat others what we expect from them.



This is a great board and does mirror my philosophy. I love my students and believe in them, but I will push them to give me their all, too.

Task 2


I ask my students to work in pairs, facing each other. They are asked to draw their partner’s portrait ,the way THEY  see him/her. As soon as they finish, they show each other their drawings and both  comment on them, describing their partner’s  facial or body characteristics in the picture   at the same time. During the next step, I ask them to exchange pictures and start writing words that describe  their personalities, around the picture frame. I usually brainstorm relevant  vocabulary before this activity, or use my “BE” bulletin board. (see photo  above) Finally, I ask their partners to ADD 2-3 more words  , from their own point of view. All pictures are displayed on the class bulletin board.


Rapport activity: make your partner’s portrait the way you see him/her , add adjectives which you think describe their character and personality !


Students work in pairs for this activity. They don’t show their partner their drawing until it’s done.

Task 3


I ask the children to stand facing each other in two lines and raise their arms high,with the tips of their fingers touching, to make the Happy Tunnel! I choose a child to go through the happy tunnel.I ask the class to think of a positive thing to say to the child who is going to go through the tunnel, eg I like you/You’re great/You’re nice/You’re good at…

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

The Happy Tunnel: I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons, in order for everyone to have a turn.

I ask the child to walk slowly through the tunnel. The rest of the class whisper or say their sentences.The child then comes out of the tunnel with a big smile!! If time is not enough for everyone to have a turn  , I repeat the activity once or twice over several lessons.

This special activity ,which I just love, makes students feel good about themselves. It also helps them to realize how easy it is to make other people feel good too, thereby creating a positive atmosphere for learning. We  should brainstorm positive adjectives to describe people, before this activity.



Happiness is on the way!….


More  adjectives  students could  use to describe the… protagonists: “positive, quick, friendly, unique, good- humoured, sweet, intelligent, peaceful, kind, enthusiastic, funny, witty, brave, calm, responsible, polite, angelic.”

In my class, his moment resulted to be a very special one. Some students expressed how moved they felt and they thanked  their friends for what they have shared.

This activity helped to honour their uniqueness, it focused on their good qualities contributing to develop a positive self- image.

Task 4


I usually do this activity as soon as we come  back to school. But, it’s nice to keep this letters exchange going  , both between the teacher and the students and among the students, throughout the school year! In my classroom, there is a letter box we use to do so…We open it ,every Friday, to read our  mail!!

I give children the opportunity to tell me a few  things they like about themselves.  I prompt them to state things they can do well, things they feel good about. I am always  surprised at how many children suffering with low self-esteem have difficulty with this task – I usually ,need to provide prompts.

I always make sure that, in my reply letter I help  them build  self-esteem through praise and affirmations.



Get to know your students by having them write you a letter.

Build your students'self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Build your students’self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Task 5


I bring a sack with a running shoe, a bread pan, a piece of stained glass, something of my daughter’s etc .I group students and dump a few things on each table.Then, I give them a few minutes to say what they think each item says about me !I invite them to bring their own sack on the following day and I am  always surprised of how many kids  actually, bring one!  It is fun to see how excited the kids get when they discover that a classmate has something in common with them. They are so proud to talk about their special talents and interests, in front of their classmates! When it is my kids’ turn to let their classmates guess about the items in their bags, they share so many personal stories, too!  This activity, definitely boosts their self-esteem!


During the next lesson, students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it!

Me in a bag activity, day 2: Students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it which have to about their special talents and interests or their life in general!


Task 6


I bring a ball of yarn in class. Then, I ask the students to say their name and an interesting fact about themselves. Holding the end, they toss the ball to another student. That student will say their name and an intersting fact or what makes them unique! By the time everyone has spoken , there will be a large web of yarn which reminds the students of the bond we share with each other!


mos2014 self est web2

I am special because….

mos2014 self est web3

This web, could be displayed on the bulletin board with thump tacks, later!


I’d say that, these activities have been of utmost important in helping each student feel unique in front of his/her classmates and to develop group bonds. Students were able to understand what the other was feeling.

Quoting White (1997), “For a short time the academic curriculum is set aside and affective education, i.e. education of the emotions, is dealt with in a structured way.” “When harmony reigns, learning flourishes”.

Self-esteem is needed life-long and we need to remember the important role we play to enhance or damage a child’s self-esteem.

This is the book you can find the "Happy Tunnel" activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!

This is the book you can find the “Happy Tunnel” activity, among many more really interesting ones! Highly recommended!




Displaying students’ work


Our english bulletin board outside the teachers’ office!! So much to share!

If  I ask my students “Why do we display work in our classroom?” answers might include: “So we can see what each other is doing.” “So we can show work that we’re proud of.” “So we can learn more about a topic.” “So that we have interesting things on the walls.” As their teacher, I might  add that displays also help students reflect on their work, learn from each other’s work, and make the classroom beautiful.


Colourful students projects, displayed!

I personaly, provide each class with a space on the wall of our english classroom, that belongs to them! I hang a  colourful background paper and label it with the class  name.  At the risk of being institutionalized, I will admit that I have used actual levels and tape measures to perfect them .I also like hanging students’ work  from a clothesline.


I provide each class with a space on the wall of our english classroom, that belongs to them

I have several   “ bulletin boards”  both in my classroom and outside it, in the corridors,   now. Full of photos -to share our work in the class with other students, classes or parents- pen pals letters, photos and projects, news from our class, forthcoming events announcements, invitations to our english shows and so many more!


Pen pals letters, photos and projects outside our classroom door!

I make sure that my classroom displays consist mostly of work students have done themselves (along with a few essential informational pieces such as class rules, anchor charts, and reminders about classroom routines).

It’s not only walls that  can be used as display surfaces!  In my classroom there are more places, such as:  the door, the ceiling ( mobiles), tables, boxes ,shelves, string washing lines -as I have already mentioned-  the corridors and sometimes the…floor or the windows! I should also mention “another school”,  since our projects are sent abroad and therefore displayed in another classroom! Additionaly, part of my students’ work is published  in the school handmade magazine and this is very motivating indeed!


In my classroom there are more places than just the walls, such as: the door, the ceiling ( mobiles), tables, boxes ,shelves, string washing lines or the corridors …

 I suggest  that, we should- together with our students – develop criteria for choosing work to display.

These criteria might include:

  • The work shows our best efforts, not just perfect work.
  • The work shows growth or improvement. (This may include displaying early drafts with later drafts.)
  • We feel proud of the work.
  • The work is important to us.

I firmly believe that, effective displays celebrate each piece of work and radiate with a sense of student pride. They highlight the individual pieces of work rather than the surrounding decoration.


All the classes photos are always displayed on the door!

My list of qualities that make a display effective:

Displays should be simple.

Displays should show what is most important in the work.

Decorations should fit with the piece of work and show it off.

Displays should include a label with the name of the student, the title of the work, and perhaps something about the work.

Displays should be neat.


I also like hanging students’ work from a clothesline.

Tips about displays:

Displays should have a meaningful connection to the curriculum. They should be effective tools for teaching and learning. This is particularly important when the holiday season approaches. Although there’s nothing wrong with seasonal displays, the material on display should go beyond simply marking a holiday. Instead the information should connect with, emerge from, and expand students’ knowledge about topics being studied.


The class rules are displayed behind the teacher’s desk, visible to the whole class!

Create displays that honor effort and not just perfectly mastered work.Displays should make every child feel valued regardless of his or her academic or artistic abilities. I avoid using grades, stickers, or marks on children’s work that will be displayed.

Keep displays fresh, useful, and uncluttered. Make sure that the children’s work is changed often enough to keep the displays relevant to the curriculum and keep them from getting “stale.” With limited space it is better to regularly rotate the children’s work than to crowd and clutter the area. I manage to do so,  by having my students  exchange their  projects with their  pen pals  abroad!


The corridors are perfect for displaying photos from our end- of -the- year musicals and shows!

 Displaying student work is very important for motivation in a student-centered classroom.

Displaying student work sends several important messages to students, staff, and visitors:

  • As teachers, we value what students do.
  • This is the students’ classroom as much as the teacher’s.
  • In this classroom, students share their work and learning with one another.

Make sure that the children’s work is changed often enough to keep the displays relevant to the curriculum and keep them from getting “stale.

Students will naturally look at their own work more frequently than they’ll look at commercial pieces. It is their work, after all. Seeing their own work on display not only boosts students’ sense of belonging and significance in the room, but also helps them learn from their classmates and see a greater purpose behind their work. All of these things can help lead to greater academic engagement and deep, meaningful learning.