Classroom Mottos

Classroom Mottos support students by encouraging positive attitudes, providing an anchor for continuous growth, and creating a classroom co
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About This Strategy

By working with students to develop classroom mottos, teachers can establish the culture and community of a classroom in which students feel connected to their classroom, valued, and personally responsible for its efficacy. Once established, these classroom mottos are visual reminders for students of the anchor for all activities and attitudes in class. Additionally, teachers can connect classroom experiences to curriculum and to real world experiences through the motto. Teachers can also redirect student behavior, and provide clear, visual support that each student plays an important role in the classroom community. This strategy is best introduced in the first days of a class when establishing classroom values and can be used at any level and should be regularly and intentionally referenced for the duration of the class. 

Implementation Steps

  1. Select a classroom motto. Choose a motto that matters (see example in the resource section below). Teachers must believe in the motto.

  2. Position the motto in a place where it will be the first thing students see as they enter the classroom. The motto should be attention grabbing and be the focal center of the classroom.

  3. Discuss the motto with students within the first days of school. Explain the purpose behind the motto and connect it to student success inside and outside of the classroom.

  4. Allow students to interact with the motto by creating an image such as the one below that represents each of them as individuals and the vision each student has in how they will achieve the high standards of the classroom motto.

  5. Create a community around the classroom motto. Display the individual student images around the motto. From afar, the individual names and goals are not obvious. Each student, however, can easily identify his or her image and know they belong in the classroom community.

  6. Use the classroom motto as an anchor for effort, achievement, and positive attitude and behavior. Reference it as needed when students achieve and when they fall short of the classroom expectations; social, emotional, and academic.

EL Modification

The purpose of this strategy is to engage all students. Language can serve as an initial divide or as a tool for connection. The classroom motto should be displayed in all languages spoken by the students in the classroom.

Implementation steps:

  1. Use visual supports and gestures to convey meeting. Include pictures to support the main idea behind the classroom motto. Students should not need to rely solely on the words to understand the classroom motto.

  2. Provide ELs an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the classroom motto for themselves.

Special Education Modification Block

Students with emotional regulation disabilities may be provided with an additional redirect by using the classroom motto. Students with learning disabilities or delays in processing will find encouragement and motivation in a goal that transcends academics. These modifications allow students to identify with the classroom motto at whatever level is appropriate for each individual student. These modifications are written with a non-verbal student and a student with support in place for behavior in mind.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Allow students the opportunity to create their piece of the classroom motto using images, pictures, or short phrases.

  2. Provide students with materials (coloring utensils, stickers, etc.) that allow them to represent themselves without requiring writing.

  3. Connect SEL skills to the classroom motto. Emphasize the motto is to set students up for success in life. Success is not limited to the four walls of the classroom.

Classroom Mottos for Distance Learning

When participating in Distance Learning, a physical space in the classroom becomes a less central part of this strategy. Create a virtual classroom space that allows for students to become engaged in a community and rooted in a common purpose.

Implementation steps:

  1. Use web or app based resources such as the ones included below to design and display the classroom motto.

  2. Embed the classroom motto into the homepage of the LMS.

  3. Refer to the classroom motto on a regular basis. It is an essential component of classroom culture and can be referenced as frequently as possible to support academic and behavioral achievement.

Classroom Mottos as a Way to Reset

While this strategy is best implemented at the beginning of the school year, any time a classroom requires a “reset” will work. Whether it be at the beginning of a new semester, quarter, month, or week; whether it be at the start of a new unit; whether it be after a big event, positive or negative, has taken place; the classroom motto can still serve its purpose.

Implementation steps:

  1. Consider the implementation steps listed above. In addition to the explanation of the purpose of the classroom motto, the teacher should explain why the classroom motto matters “right now.” Teachers may find themselves in need of a “reset” for a variety of reasons (extended leave, late hire, significant change in class dynamic, etc.). It is important to acknowledge why the motto will help the classroom culture where student achievement can increase.
  2. ​​​​​Explain the motto in student friendly terms. Teach students to see the motto as a sort of contract or agreement between all members of the classroom community. It is everyone’s responsibility to uphold the contract in order for everyone to be able to learn.

Teacher Tips

  • Consider mottos throughout the year. Keep a list of mottos that are being considered. Reflection over the motto is essential. If the teacher is disconnected, the students will be as well.

  • Draw inspiration from all aspects of life. The classroom motto can be self-written, from a favorite book or author, or any idea that connects with the teacher.

  • The provided lessons reflect the classroom motto and its connection to beginning and end of year business. It is essential that the motto not be limited only to those times. Anytime the class is starting a new unit, a new quarter, or needs a general “reset,” the teacher should use the motto.

  • The motto should be used throughout the year to praise student achievement and as a tool to support students as they work towards master of academic and social/emotional skills.

Culturally Responsive Learning Alignment

Creating a classroom environment where all students understand their value is an essential way to encourage learning. Taking the time to unequivocally designate a spot for every student to see themselves as an integral piece of the classroom community is invaluable in regards to student engagement and success. The classroom motto values diversity, celebrates differences, and makes sure students know that they can learn at a high level.

Related Lessons

  • Teachers can introduce classroom mottos to students at the beginning of the year using the  Beginning of Year lesson linked below. 

  • Teachers can reflect on classroom mottos with students at the  End of Year using the lesson linked below

Consulted Resources

In developing this strategy, the following BetterLesson strategies were consulted.