My biggest classroom secret, in my special education classroom – positive affirmations. Others saw it as a waste of time, I saw it as an investment of time that directly and positively affected achievement.
Growth mindset is all the rage in schools these days. When we think positive thoughts, positive things happen. It’s easy to wonder, “Can I really think my way to better outcomes?”, “How can I REALLY get my kids to think positively?” or “That’s all just fluffy, hippy feel good stuff.”
It is possible and it’s not just fluff. Maybe you’ve had someone who put you down a lot, maybe it was you putting yourself down. It doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t help anyone. When we feel poopy, we perform poopy. Same with students. Some kids don’t have cheerleaders at home. They don’t have a single person, including themselves, that EVER tells them anything positive. In fact, for many students it can be the exact opposite.
An old school belief is that if you are “hard” on kids it will motivate them to do better. So students hear that they aren’t good enough, that they aren’t smart enough, that their peers are better than them, and unfortunately this happens the most to the lowest students. This theory does. Not. Motivate. Anyone. Would it motivate you?
Personally, I have experienced this and it put me into a downward spiral. Luckily, I had the adult coping skills to pull myself out of it. Students don’t have these coping skills. I also learned the power of positive affirmations. When I started looking at myself and telling myself good things, I put my inner mean girl and all those other voices to rest. It’s still a constant struggle, but the more I practice positive affirmations, the better it gets.
Teachers need positive affirmations too. With all the voices telling you that you aren’t doing enough, if you were a better teacher students would perform, and all the other disrespect that can come from people outside the teacher world, we need to give ourselves some love.
Teachers often make such a huge difference, because we are that voice that they need to hear. Telling them they CAN do it, telling them you believe in them, telling them mistakes are okay and necessary. When students know you believe in them they are emotionally invested to do more. When they believe in themselves, that emotional investment gets that much richer.
Reasons you should you positive affirmations:
- Build confidence.
- Increase your positive classroom climate.
- Decrease bullying.
- Improve achievement with a small investment of time.
- Changes mindset to improve learning.
Some ways you can use positive affirmations in the classroom are:
- “I statements” and “you statements.” I’ve included a list that you can use in the FREE RESOURCE CENTER.
- Starting the day off with these practices – have students repeat the I statement before you start class for the day.
- Partner students and read “you statements” – this builds a positive classroom environment. Students are hearing positive things about themselves from their peers.
- Use positive affirmations during short “brain breaks”. I did this during transition times in my classroom to keep the momentum going.
- Incorporate positive affirmations with brain break movements. I created Yoga Brain Breaks as a way to do this, however, you could have students do jumping jacks or run in place while saying the I and you statements. Keep it simple, make it work.
Have you used positive affirmations in your classroom? What was your experience?