Recently, I listened to Jon Acuff’s new book, Soundtracks. It’s a fun book to listen to and gave me a lot to think about as I continue my own process of change. The technique he describes in working to change our thoughts involves choosing new thoughts and practicing these new thoughts by repeating them aloud morning and evening for at least 30 days.

I have been struggling to reach a particular student since school began this year. He is a fourth grader with K/1 literacy skills. He has mastered every avoidance trick in the book and uses distractions to derail lessons. Finally, I split his group and am seeing him 1:1. At first, it was the same. I felt like I spent the entire time redirecting him–trying every trick I knew to keep him on task.

However, on October 13, 2022 things changed. I decided to apply what I had learned in Soundtracks with this student. At the beginning of the lesson, I took out a mirror and had him repeat the words, “I am a reader. I can do this.” We had a successful lesson. At the end, I had him repeat again, “I am a reader. I can do this.”

As we walked to class on October 14, he asked, “Are we going to do that mirror thing?”

I said, “Do you want to do that mirror thing?”


Every day since, we begin and end each lesson with the mirror and his affirmations. Today we added, “I can learn new things.” So far, that’s 7 consecutive days of affirmation and successful reading lessons.

For the first time in his life, he completed a “chapter” book. Yes, it was decodable and yes, it had six short chapters. To him, it was still a chapter book. I was so proud of him and glad that he responded to the words, “I am a reader.”

Today, when I picked him up, he was on the carpet. Reading.

3 thoughts on “Affirmation of Affirmations

  1. First, I am so glad to be reading your writing again!
    Wow, this is an inspiring post. You tell the story succinctly and directly. We see how you apply your own journey’s lessons to this guy. So sweet , how he embraces the mirror affirmations! I hope you get as much from it as your student, he gained so much.

  2. Your story brings tears to my eyes-and joy that you have been persistent and taken the time to finally break down a barrier to help this young man begin his reading journey. 🙂

  3. This post. It warms the cockles of my teacher-heart. It’s a good post to read on a day when I’m feeling down or discouraged about the immensity of what I take on as a teacher. Your story reminds me that it’s in these little moments, in the tiny steps forward with one child at a time, that we remember our calling. Thank you. =))

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