The act of giving and receiving empowering messages has just as much a place in our schools as anywhere else. We sometimes don't think of this as being the place where such a thing can survive. The truth is it happens a lot more than we think.
Our words matter greatly, especially when we are teachers. There is peer support of every kind in the school environment. Students hearing and sharing empowering messages in their formative school years are more than just an act of personal betterment. It's a betterment of others as well.
With just a few words we can enhance a student's classroom experience, or utterly destroy it. That's how powerful words are, and how fragile young people can be. Below is a list of 10 empowering messages to give to your students.
1. "Today Is a New Day. What Can We Do With It?"
The trials of yesterday are behind you. A new school day dawns, and with it come possibilities. Chances for success, empathy, and discovery are abundant. Inspiration is everywhere you look. The opportunity to be better than you were yesterday is right here, right now.
When we're young, we have a harder time letting stuff go than we do as we get older. Your students can benefit from being reminded that a new day is always a fresh start.
2. "You Aren't Defined by Your Failures, You're Empowered by Them."
But how? they'll ask you. How can they think about learning something when all they can think of is what they did wrong? How is this making them better? This is the perfect time to introduce students to useful failure.
Before anything else, students must know they are learning in an environment with zero judgements from you. First they must realize they are safe to make mistakes. Then you can explain how errors can become learning experiences. Learning from mistakes isn't always the best way, but sometimes it's the only way.
3. "The Hardest Person You'll Ever Face Is the One Staring Back at You in the Mirror."
It's true; we are either our own best ally or our own worst enemy. It's up to us to decide which one, and we actually do have that choice.
4. "Success Means Caring. You've Got to Care More Than Anyone Else Does."
Eric Thomas claims, "When you want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful."
When we pursue something that means more to us than anything, we'll care more than most others do. That's just fine. Those ones who do care with us will appear at the right time to champion our cause in the right way. Believe it as the truth, and the truth it shall become.
Our students should be encouraged to care about learning with the exact same passion. Learning is personal to each one of us. As lifelong learners, we decide what, when, and how we learn. If we can plant the desire for success in them early on, then they'll be unstoppable.
So what do we say about pursuing success? Tell them this: it will be hard, it will be exhausting, and sometimes it will be lonely, but it will be worth it. If you want it bad enough, you'll never give up though the worst goes before you.
5. "I'm a Learner Too. We Need to Support Each Other in That."
Even teachers are always learning. That's the shared journey that connects teachers to their students. If you're all learning together, you're making terrific progress. Your students need to know you're neither above or beneath each other.
If they can make mistakes without being criticized, then as the teacher you deserve the same courtesy. Any classroom can become a strong network of support when this kind of honesty and transparency exists between teacher and pupil.
6. "There's Nothing You Can't Do If You Really Want To."
As far as empowering messages go, this one is a classic for a reason. Too often, many of us live with more awareness of our limitations than our potential. It goes back to our experiences with well-meaning adults in home and school situations when we're much younger and more impressionable. We were brought up with many beliefs, right or wrong, about ourselves and what we could do. Not all of them may have been proactive.
The time to change that is now. You can give your students a new program to download into their subconscious mind. Let them know they are capable of anything they set their minds to. The only limits they have are the ones they choose to place on themselves.
7. "Great Things Begin With Small Actions."
One of the world's greatest humanitarians was Mother Teresa. Great as she was, even she cautioned, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." Tackling too much at one time is a recipe for disaster. So start small; begin at the beginning and make a great change one step at a time.
It's important to build on previous successes gradually and carefully, preserving the progress of every previous step. That's how greatness manifests.
8. "I'm Always Here to Help You, but You've Got to Take the Lead."
The teacher is no longer the gatekeeper of all knowledge. Their role has switched to guide, assistant, and enabler of student potential. Students must know that you're there for support and for guidance. The responsibility for learning and succeeding, however, is still theirs.
9. "I Believe In You."
This one needs no explanation. Everyone can benefit from hearing this. No better time to start than right now.
10. "You're Not Alone."
The Persian poet Rumi told us, "Stop acting like the wolf, and let the shepherd's love fill you." Young students carry the weight of the world on themselves. In troubling times, it's easy for them to feel like no one has ever felt the way they do, and never can.
That's understandable, of course. They haven't lived long enough and witnessed enough of others' suffering to learn that it's often universally shared experience. Nevertheless, this is the time for them to become aware that empathy and understanding are within arm's reach. Again, it comes down to the student feeling safe enough to open up. As teachers, that's our mission.