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Self-Respect Activities for High School Students

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The following activities are designed to help you teach your high school students skills for thinking about and practicing self-respect. These activities can be adapted to all high-school grades.

Self-Respect in High School

Self-respect is a tremendously important skill to develop, but one that can be difficult to teach and practice. High school students are in a particularly important stage in their lives to develop confidence with self-respect as they navigate social pressures from school, start dating, and take on their first jobs. These activities can help you practice self-respect actions and thoughts with your students.

Self-Respect Activities

Accomplishment Portrait

Ask students to bring in a piece of paper that represents an important accomplishment (this could be an essay they got an A on, a certificate or award, etc). As this paper will be permanently damaged, encourage students to bring a photocopy, not the original.

Divide the class into partners. Partners will help trace each other's silhouettes onto their accomplishment papers. Students should then have free artistic reign to decorate this as much/little as they'd like. They can try to fill in the silhouette with their features, color around the exterior and add images of things they like, whatever they want. In the end, they will have created a unique self-portrait to serve as a reminder of their accomplishments.

  • Materials: Accomplishment document from home, art and craft supplies as desired.

Self-Respect Skits

Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to select a scenario from a hat. These scenarios should involve a wide range of situations in which students must choose to demonstrate self-respect (in social groups, in dating, in work, in school, among strangers). In their groups, students will craft a skit in which they demonstrate a response to this scenario that requires self-respect.

  • Materials: Skit scenarios.

Self-Respect Superheroes

For this activity, you will ask students to imagine themselves as superheroes and create the cover to their debuting comic book. To start, ask students to free journal and list out the values that they want to stand for, their actual positive traits and gifts, and what superpower they'd use to accentuate these gifts and values. Students will then draw the cover to their comic book showing them as this superhero, and draw a short comic strip in which they (as the superhero) do something to stand up for their values.

  • Materials: Writing supplies, art and craft supplies as desired.

Class Rules

Inform the class that they are all going to come up with a set of class rules to help everyone in the room practice consistent self-respect. Divide the class into small groups and give them time to generate a list of rules to help encourage self-respect. This could include things like 'no self-deprecating comments about your looks or intelligence', 'don't be afraid to speak up', 'no swearing', etc. Bring all the groups back together and give them chances to suggest rules to the class. The students will debate and ultimately decide upon a set of class rules. Students will be in charge of enforcing these rules for themselves and others (but remind them to do so gently and compassionately).

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