In a TikTok video, Neffiteria Acker, who teaches fourth graders in Kindezi at Gideons Elementary School, took it upon herself to make sure her students know the importance of self-love.
Acker makes his students look in the mirror before class ‘to start the day off right’.
Acker’s video, which has had more than seven million views, shows the elementary school teacher having her students say positive affirmations in the mirror before they enter her classroom at the start of the school day.
Students are filmed walking up to the mirror, which has stickers saying “I am” pasted on the sides. They each have to say a positive statement about themselves while looking directly into the mirror.
“I’m smart,” sings a young student in the mirror before entering the class, as another student steps up and confidently says, “I’m a good person!”
Other statements made by students included: “I’m awesome. I’m strong. I’m a good sports player. I’m strong and independent.” Acker also makes a point of telling his students to say these statements out loud and with conviction.
Having young children recite positive affirmations has been proven to improve their self-esteem, according to the Kindness Ripple Project.
Positive affirmations are very effective in nurturing children’s emotional well-being. Affirming positive messages are like acts of kindness and love towards themselves that build self-esteem and self-confidence that can stay with them for a lifetime.
Acker shared that she came up with the exercise after doing it with her own son.
In an interview with TODAY Parents, Acker revealed that practice with her students came from the positive affirmations she makes with her 5-year-old daughter.
“The idea came from a practice I do with myself and my 5-year-old daughter,” Acker told the publication.
“When we’re on our way to school, she repeats the affirmations to me, starting with ‘I am.’ Usually I just ask her to tell me something nice about herself. She’ll say, ‘I’m a fast eater’ or ‘I’m a fast runner’. Then I add, “You’re very brave too. So why don’t you say, ‘I’m brave.’
Acker noticed that affirmations boosted his daughter’s confidence and decided to try them out with the students in her class.
The teacher who recorded the video, Cierra Levay Broadway, shared that she was visibly moved by students performing the self-confidence exercise.
“It was a great moment,” said Broadway. “I really got chills when I saw the kids and heard what they were saying for their affirmations. For many of them, it was the first time they’d done this.”
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Both teachers agreed that having their students learn to gain confidence is an important step in their development.
“We teach in a pretty rough neighborhood in Atlanta, and a lot of these kids don’t hear any of that,” Broadway said. “They hear a lot of negativity about themselves. … It feels good to plant those seeds here.”
Nia Tipton is a writer based in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues and trending topics.