Using role models to promote values in the teen classroom

Laura Sigsworth

Bring positive role-models into your teenage classroom with these inspiring lesson activity ideas from Laura Sigsworth. There’s a motivational THiNK poster and accompanying worksheet included too!

Values are what we need to guide us through life, and to inform the way in which we interact with others. Parents, teachers, schools and societies have an obligation to convey positive values to the next generation, but telling teens how they should or should not behave is rarely the most effective way of getting the message across to them!

A better way could be to model behavior yourself, or even better, to use positive role models in your class to promote the values that you want to evoke in your students.

Role model lesson ideas

Here are a few ideas for how to create a lesson around inspirational “role models”.

– Choose 6-8 inspirational people that you think your students would recognize. These could be sports people, scientists, politicians, or anyone else you think is “inspirational”. Try and choose a mix of ages, genders and nationalities to appeal to different students’ interests.

– Stick images of these people around the room. Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to identify them and suggest why they are “role models”.

– As student’s feed back, write key words or phrases on the board, for example, “brave”, “cares about people” or “hard-working”. Encourage students to get to the characteristic rather than just talking about what the person has done. So rather than saying “Barak Obama was President of the US”, “Barak Obama was hard-working” or “committed”.

– Create a word cloud on the board with these personality adjectives or characteristics. Ask students to discuss in their pairs/groups if there are similarities between the different role models. What are they?

– Next, ask students to choose one person who they find inspirational. Get them to write a short paragraph about why they are inspired by this person. Depending on the level of the students, you may wish to give them useful language like “I am inspired by x because…” or “I look up to her because…”

– Now ask students to take it in turns to read their paragraph to their partner (or to the whole class if you have time), without revealing the name of the person. Can the class guess who they are talking about?

Getting students to think about the characteristics of role models is a great way to introduce values in a teen-friendly way. For more lesson ideas on this topic, why not download our THiNK positive poster and lesson plan (available in two levels A1/A2 and B1/B1+):

THiNK positive classroom poster

> THiNK positive with THiNK heroes workheet


Hear THiNK author Herbert Puchta discuss how we can foster responsibility and response-ability in the teenage classroom. 

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