Booser, a 34-year-old teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara, California, wants to give students the tools for a successful life, which she believes starts with confidence. Booser established daily journaling time in her classes and a song she wrote herself full of positive affirmations that is sung before every test.
Drawing inspiration from the popular children's chant, "Repeat After Me," Booser adapted the lyrics to fit her confidence-building teaching philosophy. In a video shared with CNN, Booser can be seen walking around her classroom chanting, "I believe in myself, I believe I can, I believe I'll try my best," pausing after each affirmation for students to join in and repeat after her.
Booser says she's been singing before tests in her classroom for years.
"I think it's important for kids to see ... your teacher is unapologetically dancing around the classroom with a mask and a microphone," Booser said. "I know it's a connection we have because they [students] are like, look at my goofball teacher, I'm now able to show my silliness."
Since establishing her positive affirmation song routine, Booser said she's noticed her students' confidence and ability to focus improve. Booser tells her students she doesn't care if they earn a 100 or 50, as long as they're trying their best.
An anxious test taker herself as a kid, Booser credited her teachers with helping her overcome that anxiety. That experience informed much of what she creates in her classroom today.
"I needed that as a kid. I needed those teachers who were saying, 'I believe in you, you got this, you're strong and capable.' When I had those teachers, my whole demeanor changed, and my confidence grew and so I want to provide that same opportunity to my students as well," Booser said.
Along with Booser's pre-test singing rituals, she has also created daily journaling time in her classroom. Starting with the prompt "I am," Booser asks students to fill in the rest, nudging them with examples like, "I am healthy," or "I am capable." Booser said her students enjoy journaling, many times reminding her about their "I am" journals on days she forgets.
The pandemic changed Booser's classroom dynamic, with some of her students attending in-person class while others attend virtually. That made her routine of singing and journaling even more important.
Daily journaling enables students to channel their frustrations and challenges, which Booser considers a big win because it provides the opportunity to pause and have a conversation about a student's situation.
Booser believes starting these kinds of conversations with kids while they're young is vital because it gives them the tools to voice how they feel. She admitted her students might not know what all her affirmations mean, such as to be capable or courageous, but they understand a lot more than adults might give them credit for.
"They're sponges, especially 8- and-9-year-olds are soaking everything in," Booser said.
At the end of the day, Booser considers being a teacher a gift. It gives her an opportunity to make a difference in a kid's life that she hopes will in turn make a difference in the world.