Math affirmations

In the spirit of the new year, when we came from winter break I had my students write math affirmations. I never did this before, but was inspired to try by a colleague and some recent readings I’ve done. I defined math affirmation for my students as a statement of worth about their mathematical selves. These statements are reflections of the principles, self-beliefs, and/or ideals that people want to manifest when they’re doing or thinking about math.

To start them on the journey of writing a math affirmation, I showed them this video:

After, I told them that it was their turn to write at least one math affirmation for themselves. Figuring that some students might have a hard time coming up with an affirmation on their own, I created a bunch of sample affirmations to help them. If they couldn’t come up with an original affirmation, I invited them to adopt one from my collection.

Sample math affirmations that I offered my students

I wanted their affirmations live publicly in the classroom, so after they determined of their affirmation, I asked them to write it down on a half-sheet of paper. I borrowed markers from another teacher so they could personalize them and make them fun.

I printed off a bunch of these on colorful paper for my students to write their affirmations

Now that I had all these fantastic affirmations, where to put them? A neat suggestion from first period: hang them up on the lockers around the room.

The walls/lockers are adorned with student math affirmations

What a great idea. At the end of the day, after I lamented a few of the affirmations and hung them up, the student who offered the locker suggestion came into the classroom and saw them. She beamed and said pridefully, “I told you they would look good!” She was right. We now have a bright, colorful, and inspirational touch on what was a boring part of our room. It’s comforting to know that while my students are working on our whiteboards, the affirmations will keep them company, waiting to provide encouragement whenever they may need it.

The whole point of an affirmation is that you read and say it often — or at least whenever you need a boost of positivity. To help accomplish this, I had students write their affirmations on a small piece of paper and tape it into or onto their math notebook. Beyond the lockers, I hope this helps them see their affirmation often.

Student notebooks with their math affirmations

It wouldn’t feel right if I had students write math affirmations and I didn’t write one myself. Thus, after my kids wrote their personal affirmations, I revealed our class affirmation:

We will grow through mathematics

Luckily for me, my school has a banner printer. This enabled me to blow up our class affirmation, have all the kids sign it (some even wrote their affirmations on it), and then put it up in the room. It looks wonderful.

Our class affirmation banner

The finishing touch is one I’m really excited about. Each day for the next few months I’m choosing one student’s affirmation to help ignite each lesson. The affirmation will be featured in the slides for the day and we’ll read it aloud via a lively call-and-response at the start of class. This, I hope, will keep the affirmations alive and well in the hearts and minds of my students. It will also help us all start each class on a positive note.

Sample slides with my students’ math affirmations


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