Today I was working on the list of classroom rules/slogans I’ll be using to help my students stay on track this coming school year. Here they are with the explanations I’ll give to them on the first day of school.
- Do the thing to have the power.
This from a powerful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The law of nature is, Do the thing, and you shall have the power: but they who do not the thing have not the power.” It is similar to Proverbs 14:23, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” The idea of course is that if there’s something you want to achieve, gain, or become you have to start heading that way.
- Every problem is an opportunity.
My boss at my programming job told me that there are no bad problems. Instead, every obstacle, failure, and problem is an opportunity for a better solution. In my classroom difficult problems are opportunities. They aren’t excuses to give up. They are reasons to learn more, try harder, or find a better way. As Marcus Aurelius said, “The obstacle in the way becomes the way.”
- Act the way you want to feel.
Gretchen Rubin is the origin of this pithy directive. Many people wait for motivation or energy to get going. I agree that managing your energy is wise. Get sleep, eat good food, and exercise. But waiting until you’re energized to do a task will leave you never doing it. Refer to rule one. If you want to feel like you’re awake and alert, sit with good posture. If you want to feel successful and studious, act successful and studious. If you want to feel smart, ask and answer questions.
- Better to give than to receive.
This is a shortened version of Jesus’ claim that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Consistently think of ways to bless those around you with your talents, resources, attitude, and words. If you can bless your parents, teachers, or classmates by what you do at school, do it.
- Struggle makes strength.
The principle of progressive resistance in sports science is the principle that steadily increasing the demands on the body’s muscles will steadily make them stronger. This principle holds true in all matters. Doing difficult things is definitely worth it. Arm yourself with this mentality. It’s Biblical, scientific, and you will prove it in your own life if you put it into practice.
- Leave it better.
At my great grandfather’s funeral, my dad observed that everywhere he went he would pick up trash, talk to somebody who looked lonely, literally sweep the sidewalk, rake leaves, or take out a mower from his trunk and mow the grass. My dad said, “He left everywhere he went better than it was when he got there.” I want you to treat my classroom, your house, your parents’ car, the school, and everywhere we go this way. But not only so, nearly everywhere you go is an opportunity to learn, grow, observe something new, and otherwise to improve. So in my classroom you will leave it better, both ways.