(Image by Karen Gately)

(Image by Karen Gately)

One of the great gifts we can share with students is to help them develop an awareness of their own identity and purpose. How we answer the question Who am I? is important to all of us.

The Who Am I? project idea is a great way for students to explore ideas related to their own purpose and identity. Their quality world pictures, like a finished jigsaw puzzle, will provide them with clues about what they value and who they are becoming. The project is powerful, even though the directions are very simple.



+ Provide students with a sheet of poster paper. Bigger is better.

+ Explain that they will be creating a personal collage of pictures that in some way answer the following questions –

What motivates me?

What are my best abilities?

How do peers influence me?

When am I at my best?

Who are my best sources of help?

How can I do more of what will best help me to succeed?

+ They can cut out pictures from old magazines or take original pictures themselves that give clues to the answers for these questions.

+ They can also cut out words from headlines and advertisements that can add to the message they are trying to convey.

+ The pictures and words can then be taped or glued onto the poster. Encourage them to arrange the pictures strategically in some way.

+ Finished posters can form the basis for brief student presentations and then be displayed afterwards.

I walked on this trail to work yesterday, a picture I would include in my own Who Am I? collage.

I walked on this trail to work yesterday, a picture I would include in my own Who Am I? collage.

The Who Am I? project is a great, but simple way to introduce (or maintain) choice theory into the classroom! Our quality world pictures are important to us and being able to focus on them is a pleasure to people of all ages. The collage process also gives teachers a reason to talk about the concept of the quality world with students. Another important choice theory principle is the process of self-evaluation, which is what answering these questions is all about.

Another process that can help with identity and purpose is journaling. For instance, how could you use the following writing prompts?

+ I used to be .   .   .   but now I am .   .   .

+ I used to think .   .   .   but now I think .   .   .

You can even add to the prompts for even more helpful focus. For instance –

+ I used to think that trying does not matter, but now I think .   .   .

+ I used to think that school was pointless, but now I think .   .   .

+ I used to be afraid of what others think, but now I am .   .   .

Again, this takes a common classroom activity and infuses it with some choice theory opportunities. There are many ways throughout the day that we can help students understand their own identity and purpose better. Keep in mind, too, that positive change always comes out of a strength area, not by focusing on eliminating a weakness. This goes for us adults as well. It is from our strengths that we launch better versions of ourselves!

(Inspired by and adopted from an excellent Edutopia blog by Maurice Elias on Helping Students Start the Year with a Positive Mindset.)


Get to know the architect of choice theory, and a lot more about choice theory in the process, by checking out his biography. Click here to link to Amazon books.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.