The contributed papers in this special issue each provide valuable perspectives on how social processes are relevant to academic motivation. Yet a critical question remains: How can this research lead to concrete guidance for educators who wish to create motivating and equitable classrooms? We propose this complex task can be simplified by encouraging educators to address students’ concerns about how they are viewed by instructors in school. Our review of the literature suggests that two meta-concerns are particularly important to address for students from groups marginalized in education: whether instructors may (1) see them as limited in academic potential and (2) narrowly define them by their academic success. We argue that effective teaching practices address these concerns by communicating two corresponding messages: (1)
, “I recognize your potential for academic growth” and (2)
, “I regard you as a whole person, with a range of personal values, social identities, and relationships
” These messages can shift students away from a “narrow” sense of self, in which their value is defined by current academic performance, and towards an “expansive” sense of self, in which students feel both academically capable and valued for more than just their academic success. We present evidence that novice instructors can use this framework to develop or adapt practices that are attuned to marginalized students’ two meta-concerns and enhance student motivation and engagement. Throughout this commentary, we describe how this framework can build on the important theoretical advances presented elsewhere in this special issue.