The fourth-graders in teachers Neffiteria Acker's and Cierra Levay Broadway's classes begin their week with affirmations to inspire self-confidence.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 26, 2021. It has since been updated.
Two teachers at an Atlanta elementary school have begun a transformative practice to help their fourth-grade students practice self-love. Every week, the pupils in Neffiteria Acker's and Cierra Levay Broadway's classes are expected to look into a mirror and repeat affirmations of praise and confidence. In a video that has gone viral since it was first posted on the internet, the young children can be seen looking into a mirror and repeating affirmations such as, "I am smart!" And, "I am a good person!" According to the teachers, the practice instills a sense of pride within their students and encourages them to remain positive, Today.com reports.
"The idea came from a practice that I do with myself and my five-year-old daughter," Acker shared in an interview with the news outlet. "When we are on our way to school, I have her repeat affirmations to me, starting with, 'I am.' Usually, I just ask her to tell me something good about herself. She will say, 'I am a fast eater,' or, 'I am a fast runner.' Then I will add to it: 'You are also really brave. So why don't you say, "I am brave."' It boosts her confidence. It boosts my confidence as a woman and a mother. So I figured, why not add that into the classroom?"
Fellow teacher Broadway truly believed it was a phenomenal idea when she first saw the children perform the activity. She said she was moved by watching the students perform the self-confidence exercise. The teacher affirmed, "It was a really great moment. I really got chills when I saw the kids and heard what they were saying for their affirmations. For a lot of them, it was their first time ever doing that." Both teachers are strong proponents of building a child's self-confidence at a young age.
In the video, students are seen lining up saying affirmations including, “I am smart,” “I am a good person” and “I am strong and independent.” https://t.co/bmuw7xoutM— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) August 19, 2021
Acker explained, "We get seeds planted in our minds and in our spirits every day and we do not realize how we are watering those seeds, and a lot of it is negative. So planting a seed of self-love is the best seed to plant, and all Cierra [and I] have to do is water it." This is especially important because of the kind of children the two teachers have the opportunity of working with. "We teach in a pretty rough neighborhood in Atlanta, and a lot of those kids do not hear that at all," Broadway stated. "They hear a lot of negativity about themselves. It is good to plant those seeds here."
She continued, "Some of these kids never leave the neighborhood. We have both taken it upon ourselves to get to know the kids, build relationships and take them places, like the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I take some of them to the pool sometimes. One of them, from our first year here, he actually lived with me for about six months. I kind of unofficially adopted him. It is not just teaching them how to read and how to do math." And of course, the children enjoy the exercise too. "They love it!" Acker exclaimed, "This is the social media era. I had some students even from the fifth grade say, 'I saw you on TikTok!' It makes them feel proud, too—somewhat famous as well. It is their school, their teacher on the internet. It makes them feel good."