When I won Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, my school put on a beautiful celebration assembly. At the assembly they had two students from each grade level share something that they had learned from being in my class or a reason why they thought I was a good teacher. There is nothing more humbling or rewarding than hearing the impact you make on your students’ lives. Let’s just say I was more than grateful for the tissue packet someone handed me before the assembly started.

A common theme from each of their speeches was that they remembered the words I spoke daily into their hearts and how I made them feel special and important. That assembly was an important reminder to me that the words we speak to our students become a part of their inner soundtrack and help shape who they become. Our thoughts are powerful, which is why the words we speak to our students should bring life, build them up, and help them become the best they can be.

Here are five of the key sayings that I tell my students every day:

  1. Make mistakes, get messy!

Every day I tap into my inner Miss Frizzle and tell my students to “make mistakes, get messy!” It’s important for our students to understand that we learn from our mistakes! I don’t want my students to be afraid to try, and when they fail I want them to know they are always loved so they will get back up and try again!

  1. That’s a problem you can solve!

I want my kids to be problems solvers, not just academically, but also in life. I teach and model ways to solves problems. I want my students to learn the important skills of teamwork, friendship, handling conflict, and independence within the support and care of my guidance. Kids, even in first grade, can learn to solve problems!

  1. Everyone is different and different is the beauty of life!

No two people are alike and it’s important to teach our students that this is something to celebrate! From different hair colors to different heights to different interests and strengths, we each have a place and an important purpose in this world that no one else can fulfill.

  1. Always do YOUR best!

Every student in our classroom is of great value, is wonderfully diverse, and is capable of success! This means that the path to success is going to look different for each student, because “Everyone is different and different is the beauty of life!” I tell them on a regular basis that I want their personal best! For some of us, reading comes really easily and for others we have to work hard. Some are really great at basketball and some people are better at art. The most important thing is that regardless of the task, they always give their best!

  1. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

The golden rule is one of the core rules of our classroom, because I want my students to not only be successful in first grade but also in life! Every person has value and deserves to be treated with respect. Our students also need to know that we each have the power to make our own choices, even when those around us are being unkind we can choose to make the right decision. It starts with us! It’s so important for us to model this for our students. They’re listening, but they’re also always watching our every move. They’re watching how we interact with our colleagues, the tone we use to correct a child’s misbehavior, and most importantly the way we treat them.

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Becca Foxwell

Becca Foxwell

Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2016-2017

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.