Every year, I sit down with my brand new class and have a little chat about why we come to school. My second graders figure it out right away: we come to school to learn.
That's when I make my yearly promise.
I'm very dramatic when I make the promise. I include dramatic pauses, and I make the same gestures whenever I say it.
I move my right hand outward as I say the first part, then I move my left hand outward as I say the second part. It goes like this:
These phrases are used all year long, and I repeat the gestures each time. After a while, I don't even have to say the words, I just do the gestures, and the kiddos realize they need to put the effort into their learning.
Of course, I make a point to keep that promise!