Friday, 28 October 2011 21:50

Building a Confident Mindset in Our Students (Part 8 of New "Establishing a Sense of Purpose" Blog Series)

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Introduction to This Blog Series:  Establishing a sense of purpose is one of the most important responsibilities teachers face at the beginning of each new school year. Throughout this blog series I will share a variety of ideas that I have used to help students better understand why it is important to come to school every day, work hard, and learn as much as possible.


This week: Building a Confident Mindset in Our Students (Part 8 of the Series)   

Over the past couple weeks I have described two benefits of a class mission statement: 1) its ability to help teachers connect daily learning activities to important future purposes, 2)  a mission statement enables teachers to establish an expectation level for student work, effort, and behavior.


The fourth paragraph of our new class mission statement builds on these two benefits and offers a third: a mission statement helps teachers build a confident mindset in our students. This paragraph is shown below.

We are all great people, and together we make an amazing team. Our work, effort, and behavior get better every day. We strive to create a fun, supportive, and advanced atmosphere. We love working hard on difficult challenges. We try to be outstanding at listening and self-discipline. We want to be inspiring role models for younger students. We don’t do the least; we do the most.

Part of our job as classroom leader is to build a sense of group identity. The words we use in our mission statement to create this identity are tremendously important because these are the words and phrases to which we will be referring over the coming months. The words we use should inspire our students, appeal to the best in them, boost self-esteem, and instill a sense of pride and responsibility.

I absolutely love the lead sentence of paragraph four because it simultaneously builds individual self-esteem and creates a feeling of group esteem. In addition, phrases such as “love working hard on difficult chalenges” and “we don’t do the least, we do the most” help build a mindset that will serve students well when they encounter difficult work that tests their patience, perseverance, and self-discipline.

My favorite phrase in the paragraph is “advanced atmosphere.” In the years I have been writing mission statements with my kids, we have never had this statement, and I think it will present some exciting discussion opportunities for us. When groups of children work exceptionally well together, for example, I can’t wait to connect their effort to this phrase so they know they did something special. I also look forward to asking my students what, in their opinion, this phrase means and what visitors to our classroom are likely to see if we are living up to these words. This phrase is another example of a “focused, yet flexible” idea, something I have already mentioned a couple times in this blog series.

A class mission statement is the ultimate reference point we have at our disposal in our efforts to establish purpose with our kids. It helps us connect daily learning activities to important future purposes; establish an expectation level for student work, effort, and behavior; and helps teachers build a confident mindset in our students.

It is my sincere hope that the paragraph-by-paragraph analysis I have been providing over the past few weeks in this blog series encourages you to write one with your class. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for me.
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