My Identity Wheel
• Create an identity wheel to share different aspects of their identity, such as their hobbies, interests, and values
• Explore their classmates' identity wheels to learn more about each other and gain an understanding and appreciation for their similarities and differences
A culturally responsive pedagogy encourages educators to celebrate students’ cultural differences through opportunities for them to self-reflect and share about their own multidimensional identities, while building an understanding and appreciation for backgrounds and perspectives different from their own. During this activity, educators should guide students to practice self-awareness to reflect on aspects of their own identity, perspective taking as they consider how others might see them (e.g., their “visible” identity), and reflect on their own assumptions about others’ identity, and inclusivity as they demonstrate curiosity and humility in learning about each other’s identities.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
1. Engage students in a discussion about identity. You might explain: "Our identity is what makes us “us”. It includes personal aspects like our values, strengths, and interests, as well as social aspects like our cultural background and the groups that we belong to. Some parts of our identities don’t change, like our skin tone or ethnic background. Other times, we might notice that our identity does seem to change, depending on the people we are with or the situation we are in. We might even notice that our identity seems to change over time, especially as we grow older and have different types of experiences. We are going to practice thinking about our identities because understanding ourselves helps us live in harmony and form friendships with people who have identities unlike our own.”
2. Distribute a physical or digital copy of the handout below to students, and ask them to create their own identity wheel by writing down or including pictures of different parts of their identity.
Share a list of different things students might include, such as their hobbies, interests, values, beliefs, strengths, experiences, relationships, cultural or ethnic background, gender identity, and personality traits.
3. Invite students to share their identity wheels with their peers (if they feel comfortable). Then, engage them in a group reflection by asking the following questions:
- What do you consider to be the most important parts of who you are? What makes them so important to you?
- How does your identity shape your behavior and lived experiences?
- Which aspects of your identity do you feel are most visible to others? Which are invisible?
- Is it possible to know everything about someone else’s identity, especially just by looking at them?
- What are some skills or strategies that can help us gain a better understanding of others’ identity?
- Do you believe it's possible for two people to have the exact same identity wheel? Why or why not?
4. Build on students’ last response, and understanding of identity, by introducing intersectionality. You might explain: “All of our wheels are unique, because there are so many different parts to someone’s identity. This is called intersectionality: the idea that we are not just defined by one single aspect of our identity, and instead, our identity is made up of various factors that interact with one another, shaping our experiences and perspectives in unique ways. Intersectionality teaches us to recognize and appreciate the diverse experiences of individuals, taking into account the many dimensions of their identities. It helps us understand that everyone's story is unique and that we should not make assumptions or judgments based on a single aspect of their identity.”