Seeing Ourselves: Forming Identity Through Self Perception

What do you see when you look in the mirror or when you see photos of yourself? Do you see beauty, kindness, and love? Do you see sadness and pain? Does the image of yourself differ from what others might see when they look at you? The way we see ourselves helps form our identity and influences our “self-esteem” or “self-confidence,” basically, how good we feel about ourselves. Sometimes others might say mean things about us, or we compare ourselves to what we see on TV, movies, or social media. It’s important that we accept and love who we are, as we are. That love transforms into self-confidence, and that self-confidence helps us make our dreams come true and builds our relationships. Loving ourselves helps us to love others too!

Elementary Lesson


  1. Watch the video titled “Perfectly Perfect.”
  1. Print handout.
  2. Use the mirror worksheet to draw yourself.  If you have one available, look in a mirror so you can accurately color in the color of your skin, the shape of your eyes, and the number of teeth in your smile. 
  3. Around the mirror on your drawing, write about all the wonderful things about you, inside and out!  Write about your smile and your cool hair, but also write about your kindness, how good you are at sports or reading, and what a great friend you are. 
  4. Share your mirror drawing with your class, friends, and your family.

Secondary Lesson


  1. Watch the video titled “Exploring Perceptions About Identity Through Self-Portraits.”
  1. Provide reflection time to students to consider their own identities, including what is visible (or what they make visible) to the world and what is hidden, inside, invisible to others. 
  2. Allow a choice to either do the self-portrait activity (e.g., drawing, collage, etc.) or a writing assignment (or both) to provide further reflection.
  3. Invite students to share their projects, only disclosing parts they feel comfortable disclosing.
  4. Inform the class that only positive feedback (e.g., clapping, snaps, etc.) will be allowed during the sharing portion of this assignment.

Teacher Tips

Teaching or parenting children during a pandemic is arguably one of the most stressful responsibilities in our world. The stress impacts not only our work but also often our feeling of efficacy and resulting feelings of power in everyday life. As adults, we are fortunate in that we often have the expressive skills, supports, and resources needed to manage our perceptions of self and our impact on the world. However, we often neglect our wellbeing for the perceived benefit of our students. What we forget at times is that children often simply want our time, attention, and expressed caring. When we neglect our wellbeing, we are like a car running on fumes - we have little to give back, and we don’t get very far. Modeling the importance of wellbeing also encourages our students to practice the same. Get started with this short breathing exercise, either individually, with colleagues, or with your students.