Students reflect on and discuss how focusing on the strengths and successes of each individual in the classroom can help everyone to feel more safe and comfortable.


Students will be able to:

  1. Reflect on and discuss how focusing on the strengths and successes of each individual in the classroom can help everyone to feel more safe and comfortable
  2. Identify the strengths and successes of their classmates
  3. Contribute to a discussion about the strengths of all students in the classroom


Large drawing or poster paper, writing utensils, decorative art supplies


Time Activity Notes
10 min
  • As an opening to class, give each student silent writing time to answer this question, “How can focusing on our strengths and successes enable us to feel more safe and comfortable?”
  • After a few minutes of writing, ask a few students to share out their thoughts.
  • Explain that in today’s activity, the goal is to help everyone feel more safe and comfortable in the classroom by increasing awareness of the strengths and successes of everyone in the class.
Little or no prompting is necessary before this activity so that students can bring their own ideas to the conversation without feeling like there is a “right” answer. Encourage students to respond authentically. You may want to play music during this time.
3 min
  • Have students cut out shields or if already pre-cut, then distribute one shield per student. Have each student write his name at the top of the shield.
  • Explain that students are going to work together as a classroom to create personal shields that reveal the strengths and successes of each other.
  • Describe how they will be passing their shields around the room in one-minute increments.
  • They will have one minute to write down one strength or success for the person whose shield they have. It can be anything that is positive, such as “has a good sense of style” or “makes me laugh” or “good at soccer” etc.
  • They must write one strength or success for each person’s shield who they receive.
  • They will pass them around the room for 9 rotations so that each person has 9 strengths or successes on his or her shield.
  • Then, you will collect the shields and hand them back to the original owner.
  • Each student will then add one strength or success of their own to the shield.
Some helpful questions to guide this activity are:

  • What do you like most about this person?
  • What’s something about this person that stands out as unique and admirable?
  • What’s one thing you have witnessed this person doing that you found impressive or unique in a good way?
15 min
Shield Strengths
  • Guide the activity you just described by giving students one-minute periods to write a strength or success of the person whose name is at the top of the shield and then pass the shield to someone new each minute.
  • After 9 one-minute rotations, collect shields and hand them to the original owners.
  • Then, give students a few minutes to read through what others wrote and to add one additional strength or success of their own.
If you think there is a chance that students will write something unkind on someone’s shield, you can collect the shields, read through all of them first, and then distribute.
10 min
Shield Art
  • Give students art supplies and 10 minutes to “make their shields their own” by adding color and other media they would like to use to decorate it.

Display shields around the classroom.

2 min

Wrap up the activity by asking students the formative assessment questions below.

Give students ample time to complete this reflection and to provide a full answer to the final question. You may want to give a guideline for length for this last question (i.e., please write 5-6 full sentences in your description).

Connections to Other Emotions

Sharing strengths, successes, and positive thoughts about each other may also foster the emotions of connected and supported.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. How did it feel to identify and write about someone else’s strengths or successes?
  2. How did it feel to read the strengths or successes others wrote about you?
  3. How can being aware of each other’s strengths and successes help everyone in the classroom to feel safe and comfortable?