"I never get good grades."
"I can't do this."
"I'm just not good at Spanish."
These are just some of the common tidbits I overhear as a teacher. At the beginning I used to just say, "Did I say that about you?" and when they answered, "...no..." I would reply, "Exactly. Because I don't think that." I assumed they got the picture.
But as the negativity began to be more prominent and as I began to read more about fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets, I realized these statements went much deeper. No amount of lectures seemed to be getting through. Time after time students walked into my classroom already defeated because of something that happened at home that morning or in the hallway before class. I couldn't take it anymore!
So, I drafted what I call our Mantra. I introduce it as positive brainwashing. I explain to the students that the words we say over and over again are what we subconsciously begin to accept as truth. I give them the handout and allow them to practice pronunciation of unfamiliar words and then we go through what the Mantra means. If I hear negativity from that day forward that affects our class culture, I loudly begin the first line and the students break into a grin as they repeat after me. In fact, on days when I feel rushed and accidentally forget to start class with the Mantra, I have multiple students who interrupt me and say "You forgot our Mantra, Maestra!" Sometimes as a quiz or test is being distributed they ask to say it one extra time "for good luck."
Lately, students have been asking if they can say my part and be our Mantra leader for the day. I take a seat in their desk and shout the student part as loud as I can..."Puedo alcanzar mis sueños poco a poco empezando con mis decisiones HOY!"