At the Heart of It All: A Self-Esteem Curriculum for Students with Learning Disabilities

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Nina Greenwald


Students with learning disabilities will inevitably face numerous challenges in their educational experience. Many of these challenges will be academic in nature but there is a greater challenge that is at the heart of it all- the development of self-esteem. The development of self-esteem is at the heart of all other challenges and experiences. It includes the feeling of security, accurate self-hood and self-knowledge, developing strong affiliations with others, having mission, and recognizing personal competence. These five components are the foundation elements of self-esteem and are essential in the learning process within school environment. These elements are explored in detail in this synthesis. Using critical and creative thinking tools as a conduit for self-esteem development, I have developed five original and creative lessons to be used with first and second grade elementary students. Each lesson incorporates aspects of critical and creative thinking, such as metacognition, learning climate, cooperative learning, and free writing, with sequential activities addressing one of the five foundation elements of self-esteem. The lessons are written for elementary educators and are engaging, easy to implement, and flexible. These lessons include original ideas and materials, as well as extensions for further use and literature recommendations. As I am a special education teacher, I have a professional interest in this topic. My teaching experiences allowed me to infuse this research with reality. Having personally struggled with self-esteem, I have a personal interest as well. The Critical and Creative Thinking program helped me regain clarity in my purpose as an educator, and encouraged me to explore my creative abilities. In doing this, I have produced five well constructed lessons, with numerous activities. I am eager to bring this curriculum fully into my own classroom and to continue my work as an influential and reflective practitioner.


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