Friday, 21 January 2011 17:45

Tip #19: Personal Mission Statements (Part 3 of 3)

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Teaching Tips 5-7 described the creation of a Class Mission Statement and explained how this founding document can be used throughout the year to establish a sense of purpose in our rooms.  Later in the year, we can follow up this initial effort with the creation of personal mission statements.  Participating in this powerful exercise promises to help students better understand the purposes of their learning, improve their behavior, work with greater motivation and enthusiasm, and find greater meaning in their work.  I simply cannot imagine myself teaching without this tool.

The Teaching Tips will focus on the topic of personal mission statements for the next three weeks.

Week 1: Introducing the Personal Mission Statement
Week 2: A Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Personal Mission Statement
Week 3: Personal Mission Boxes



Personal Mission Boxes

Culminate the process of creating personal mission statements with a terrific art activity.  Have the kids design their own personal mission boxes.  (I have found that 9” by 9” white gift boxes work best.)  The project calls for students to visually represent the ideas in their personal mission statements using photographs from home, pictures cut from magazines, and any other stickers, images, and available materials that they can attach to their boxes.  Each side of the box features a specific aspect of the personal mission statements.  These six areas are listed below.

1) Who I Am
2) Important People in My Life
3) My Contribution to Society
4) My Interests and Hobbies
5) My Goals for the Future
6) Ideas and Beliefs that are Important to Me

I give my students a sheet of paper with the labels for these six sides.  The kids then cut the sheet into strips and attach the strips to the boxes.  The project itself is time-comsuming.  I generally block out an hour-and-a-half time period on consecutive days so that the kids have plenty of time to attach their pictures, images, and materials to each side.  Students who finish early can partner up with a classmate who may not be progressing as quickly.

Expressing these hopes and thoughts artistically, as well as verbally, both broadens and deepens student understanding of what they want to accomplish.  In addition, observing the kids trying to determine how best to communicate their ideas visually is fascinating.  The experience also has a wonderful effect on class cohesiveness and morale.  It helps the kids learn more about one another and better appreciate one another’s uniqueness.

If you find that you’re unable to devote this much class time to the project, there is always the option of sending it home as a homework activity.  The obvious drawback, of course, is that the kids will be creating their boxes away from their classmates, and the bonding and mutual sharing of materials that occurs in class will be lost.

At our school’s annual Open House I have my students place their personal mission statements on their desks next to their personal mission boxes.  Without fail, parents and other visitors share with me that these projects are one of the highlights of their evening.


More information about Personal Mission Statements can be found in Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8.

New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.