"Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement because of their ability to rewire our brains. Much like exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones and push our brains to form new clusters of 'positive thought' neurons. In the sequence of thought-speech-action, affirmations play an integral role by breaking patterns of negative thoughts, negative speech, and, in turn, negative actions."
Dr. Carmen Herra
Creating a whole class affirmation and teaching your students to create their own personal affirmations is key to establishing a BEing culture. What is an affirmation and why is it so important to use in your classroom? By definition, to affirm something is to assert that it exists; it is a declaration of its truth. Notice the word "firm" in the word "affirmation." Firm means having a solid, almost unyielding, surface or structure. So using affirmations creates a positive, solid structure in the minds of students. When you repeat affirmations over and over, it signals a specific part of the brain, reinforcing their importance.The brain, in turn, gets busy creating ways to help you achieve your goals. Affirmations are backed by research and proven to work. Here is an example of a real-world affirmation used in one of my classes: "My mind is a supercomputer. I am the programmer. My input determines my output. My focus is a laser. I believe I can achieve, I know I can succeed, and I believe deep deep deep deeeeeeep in my heart.” How do I know this made an impact? One day I ran into the parent of one of my former students.
Parent: Can I get a copy of that thing you have your students say?
Me: I’m not sure what thing you are talking about.
Parent: Something about my mind is a supercomputer.
Me: Oh yeah, sure!
Parent: I walked in the room and I heard my daughter repeating it and I asked her about it. She said you had them say it every morning. And all these years later, she is still saying it, but I'm just now finding out about it. I didn't know you were doing that. So what I'm telling you is, what you do really does make a difference.
Me: Wow! Yes, that was our class affirmation.
As I reflect on that conversation, I am reminded of renowned educator, Jim Fay's philosophy about children and self-fulfilling prophecies: “I don't become what you think I can, and I don't become what I think I can. I become what I think you think I can.” What we say to our children, and the faith we have in their potential is immeasurable.
This particular parent also shared with me that her daughter is now vice-president of her leadership organization. I remember her being a brilliant and strong-willed student and I would often tell her that she had capabilities to be a great leader. Her mother told me that her daughter said, "Ms. Whitner was right. She always told me, 'You are smart, you are a leader.'" Our words truly do have power.
Some examples of personal affirmations crafted by students over the years include:
"I have the eye of the tiger."
"I keep my valves open at all times."
"I am a winner."
"I can achieve all my goals."
"It's okay to make mistakes."
"Things are always working out for me."
As a fellow educator, I encourage you to start your day with personal affirmations as well. Some of my favorites are:
"My students are consistently on task."
"I easily create efficient and effective lesson plans."
"My students are brilliant and easily catch on to lessons."
"My students are engaged and highly motivated."
"My students are conscientious about turning in assignments."
The more you repeat the affirmations, the more you will see them show up in your life. Additionally, for affirmations to truly be effective, you must paint them with the colors of emotions, feelings, and vivid details. In your mind’s eye, see your students performing on task. Picture specific students, especially those who have difficulty staying on task, enthusiastically completing assignments and participating in class. Allow yourself to have a visceral reaction when your students are on task and your classroom is operating harmoniously. You will begin to see evidence of your affirmation taking hold. Don't just take my word for it; try it for yourself. Words don't teach--experiences do.
Also, when the evidence of your affirmations appears in your life, the external, the outer picture, then it is no longer necessary for you to repeat the same affirmation because it now exists. If something is, then you know it to be. So as your affirmations come to fruition, create new ones that you would like to see manifested. Pay attention to the evidence of your affirmations aligning with your reality through situations, people, and circumstances.
Display gratitude for each and every piece of evidence that presents itself. The sky is only the beginning. Make it fun, make it creative, make it your own, and keep it simple.
Adrienne Whitner is an educator, poet, Business owner, and author. She holds degrees in Political Science, Masters in Education and a Juris Doctorate(law). She is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter a one year old grandson. After experiencing several tragic incidents, arson fire and home invasion, Adrienne made it her life's mission to make a positive difference in the world. Her goal is not to save or rescue anybody, but give people knowledge of their own power and how to access it. Although she holds many degrees, Adrienne is also self taught. She has spent countless hours voraciously reading and studying everything pertaining to self development and growth.
Her depth of knowledge and myriad of experiences allows her to assist others on their path to self discovery and betterment.