Do You Have a Mantra? #sol20

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

I have been thinking about mantras. What are the phrases you repeat to yourself? Are they positive or negative? Are you paying attention?

Within my group coaching program I am working on a higher level mantra this week. As I was listening to my coach this morning I was thinking about my mantras for school.

What do you repeat to students constantly? I am not talking about the behavior corrections here. What academic feedback do you give to students to encourage the behavior you desire in them?

My favorite phrase to tell students, especially when we are working on something new or difficult is:

I am the facilitator in my classroom. My students need to trust that what I am providing for them is something valuable. It has to be the right fit for them – not too hard, not too easy, just enough productive struggle. Students need to feel that I know what I am talking about. This is why I share my writing with students. I believe you cannot teach writing well unless you are a writer in some form yourself.

Several years ago I was talking to a colleague about writing prompts. She had expressed frustration about her students not writing well to the prompts she was giving to them. I asked her if she had provided a model for them. She had said no because she didn’t want them to copy hers. In the past, she had provided models only to have carbon copies of her piece come back to her.

We talked about the gradual release framework (I do, We do, You do) and then came back to the model.

She decided to write her own version based on the prompt. She gave herself her own assignment. Do you know what she found?

She had trouble writing the essay.


It occurred to her if she was in her 40’s and didn’t have enough experience to write a layered piece then 8,9 and 10 year olds would not be able to either. She had to change the prompts she was giving to her students. There would need to be changes to the actual prompt or scaffolding and some group research would need to happen first.

Sometimes we have to do the work first in order for it to be the highest good for our students.

I would love to hear about your mantras and beliefs from your classrooms!

7 thoughts on “Do You Have a Mantra? #sol20

  1. Really enjoyed this post! I am now an independent literacy consultant and Stenhouse author. When I worked in Upper Moreland School District, I had a mantra to begin the day – it served as a reminder for me and I repeated it a few times as I drove to school: Today I am going to paint a masterpiece!

    And I did try to make each day a masterpiece. Even though I had hard days and great days – they weren’t all as wonderful as i had planned – I started the day with a positive attitude, and I think that made a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that mantra! Amazing. It is always interesting to hear what people focus on. Started anew every day is always so important in education. Thanks for commenting. Congrats on the new job!


  2. I love your mantra and the idea of doing the work before asking the kids to do it. Awhile ago, I had a mantra “Writers are brave” and also “Our stories matter.” Some others I might consider: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”…..”Learning is an adventure”…”Even an expert was a beginner once….”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One year my students were very anxious about formal Formative and summative assessmemts (quizzes, tests, etc.)

    I posted and repeated a mantra:
    This is a test.
    It’s only a test.
    It will tell me what I can do right now, and what I can continue working on.

    It became a funny thing we shared chorally, and the laughter released tension.

    We also had learning principles posted such as:
    1. Brains grow and change (we all learn)
    2. Slow and steady wins the race.
    3. Believe in yourself
    4. Mistakes are good for us

    I can’t claim credit here, I stole these and adapted them to learning principles from Jo Boaler’s math truths.

    We always referred to them everyday as often as possible.

    Finally, my students would tell you, my favorite refrain to “Do I have to…” questions is “Why not?” and if there was a reasonable explanation why what I was asking would be inefficient, or there was a equally valuable preferable alternative, then fine. If the answer was “because I don’t feel like it”, then, well… They new what my anwer would be…!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: What Story Are You Telling Yourself? #SOL20 – The Accidental Inspirationalist

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