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Building a Sense of Self in Middle School

Building a Sense of Self in Middle School
Tanya Olander

Try this - write down six to ten unique things about you. Draw the top three in the empty glass jar. Then “fill in” the rest of the space with the remaining objects on your list. Just imagine what 200 jars will look like together!

Middle school students no longer have to imagine. Two hundred jars, each a unique self-portrait of one of our middle school students, are currently on display near the middle school library. 

Exploring Sense of Self

The jars, part of an advisory activity earlier this semester, are just one example of how SSIS integrates the Core Values into the curriculum. And the integration extends far beyond the advisory lessons. Across subjects, students have had several assignments that help them reflect on and strengthen their “Sense of Self.”

poster of jars

Two hundred unique self-portraits are currently on display near the middle school library. 

In Mr. Greg Jardin’s Exploratory Writing class, students have created “heart maps” that jump-started them early in the semester into the exercise of thinking about who they are. By assigning parents the same activity during Curriculum Night, Mr. Jardin created a foundation for families to speak more about the topic at home.

During English as an Additional Language class, students worked on compiling a reading timeline as they considered how books impact or highlight one's Sense of Self. And students in World Languages: Spanish have created timelines of their lives in Spanish!

ms students seated on floor coloring posters

Middle schoolers complete their language identity portraits during an assembly given by ES EAL Coordinator, Ms. Ceci Gomez-Galvez.

As students learn more about who they are, how they feel about themselves has the power to impact every aspect of their life. Maintaining an open dialogue and allowing students the time and room to reflect is essential in developing their identities and a healthy Sense of Self.  

Many Perspectives Make an Identity

Seated on the middle school gym floor, students recently had the opportunity to reflect on their identity from yet another perspective as guest speaker ES EAL Coordinator Ms. Ceci Gomez-Galvez, addressed the topic of “language identity.” Using the template from a recent parent workshop on student support services, students drew unique figures to symbolize the languages that make up their language identity.

ms burger ms principal kneels down to speak to student

Asking middle school students open questions can give insights into how they see themselves, says MS Principal Molly Burger.

“One of the most important things we can do for our students at this time in their life is to help them explore who they are and who they want to be. It’s an exciting and challenging age to parent. We encourage parents to ask their children open questions that can give an insight into how their children see themselves. One of my favorites is ‘What are three words your friends might use to describe you?’” says Molly Burger, Middle School Principal.

student work on board

As a part of the "Depending on When You Met Me" assignment in Exploratory Writing, students reflected on their lives during other stages.

As our students prepare to take their place in the world, leading purposeful lives as global citizens, we will continue to support and encourage their intellectual and personal development in partnership with our parents. 

To learn more about our Core Values, please see this page.

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