If you are like most teachers, you find lots of great ideas (we looove Pinterest) but you just can’t find the time or the step-by-step implementation of incorporating this new idea. If you have discovered or begun exploring the benefits of affirmations I’m not going to leave you hanging to figure the rest out on your own. I believe in the Golden Rule, and as a teacher I would want someone to lay it all out for me so that’s exactly what I’m going to do for you!
First task…scheduling!! In order for anything to happen in our classroom, we need to carve out time for it. Time to a teacher is the most precious thing in the world! Don’t stress, affirmations in action will only need less than 5 minutes of your class time after you’ve taken the time to model and train the students on how it is to be done in your classroom.
Time invested in one area is time away from another! – Pamela Shaw
Affirmations can (and in my opinion, should) be made into part of your morning meeting time in the classroom. This is the ideal time for students to read their personal affirmations. Students can each say their own affirmations out loud while you play classical music in the background. Some of you may cringe at the thought of 20 something kids all talking aloud at the same time, let alone having music on while they do this. Have no fear! This is a skill that must be taught, but kids of all ages are capable of accomplishing this! In my kindergarten classroom we practiced affirmations and they were able (of course after modeling and training time) to stay focused on whisper reading their own affirmations throughout the entire song. I allowed my students to pace in their “spot” while reading to help those students who need to move. This method of incorporating affirmations into your schedule will flow the best and yield the best results in your classroom because how you begin your day becomes your day!
How you begin your day becomes your day! – Tori Steinman
Next Step…teaching!! Modeling and training time are key whenever introducing anything new in the classroom, and affirmations are no different. First, you must have a mini-lesson where you model to the students why and how YOU use affirmations. Then the next mini-lesson should include a few example affirmations and modeling how to whisper read them to yourself. The most important thing in this lesson is to also model examples of what NOT to do and allow the students to catch you doing it the wrong way and correct you! After they have seen what they will be doing, during the next mini-lesson you can give everyone the same short affirmation written on an index card and have them practice whisper reading it to themselves. Walk around as they are reading and lean in close to hear them. The final training mini-lesson is to have students practice whisper reading their affirmations with the classical music playing softly in the background. For this lesson play the classical music for only 1 minute. Again, I allowed my students to pace in their spot but not have freedom to roam the classroom and be in each others space. Incrementally work up by 30 second intervals, giving the students more affirmation cards to read, to a full song. It is perfectly ok for everyone to start the year and the practice of affirmations with the same ones. Once this skill is mastered, then you can move on to students creating their own personal affirmations.
Affirmations can also be incorporated into your writing lessons by brainstorming affirmation ideas and wording. Then have students write them out in clear, concise language. Hello lesson in sentence structure and readability! Just a friendly reminder that affirmations should always be written in first person, “I” statements. 🙂
If you’re interested in utilizing technology with affirmations, you can voice record or videotape students reading their affirmations aloud. Art can be incorporated by having students illustrate each affirmation statement. Think outside the box, I’m sure you are a creative teacher, trust your ideas and try them out!
Helpful Hint: If the student has an affirmation about reading, have him repeat his affirmation before any reading assessments or benchmarks. Same goes for math, or any test taking skills. I can’t emphasize how important it is to choose the right phrasing when creating affirmations.
If the student has an affirmation about behavior, you can repeat it for the student in a moment when the unwanted behavior arises. For example, one of my kids tends to over-react, so one of his affirmations is “I can take a breath and respond.” When I see him start to get worked up over something, I say to him “I can take a breath and respond.” Hearing this triggers his brain to remember that he is capable, able, and wanting to “take a breath and respond”. Sometimes this works great to remind and calm the students; but this can sometimes backfire and set the student off more. You will need to know your student individually to know whether to repeat or remind the student of their affirmation in the moment or not. I have used this strategy with my children at home as well, it is effective with my son for me to say his affirmation when he needs a reminder. It does the complete opposite for my daughter, it will cause her to escalate and get really angry with me for saying her affirmation. Always do what is best for the child!
If the student uses a behavior plan or check sheet, you could incorporate their behavior affirmation into that! This helps create simple consistency for the student. They are programing their mind to become the student they want to be. You as their teacher are cheering for them every time you catch the behavior they are working on with their affirmation. And the student has a concrete scoreboard to check and see how successful they are becoming with that goal.
Ending your school day with affirmations would be beneficial. After everyone packs up for the day, you could again play classical music and have students each say their affirmations aloud. You can encourage students to say their affirmations at home as well by sending home a copy.
For your copy of our freebie Affirmations for Students, click here!
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