You might find yourself reading this question or click on the title of this article because it puzzles you. Or perhaps you can immediately answer the question.
There are lots of research studies to support gratitude and the positive effect it has on not only the receiver but the giver feeling more happy. In fact the benefits of gratitude include but are not limited to feeling more optimistic, more relaxed, kinder, increased productivity, and improved sleep (from “The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life”). When I read that list I immediately see the benefits it could have on my students.
As a teacher I am constantly modeling and explaining to my students why I am doing something a certain way or choose to do something. For example, I do not ask my students to just organize their binder, I model the way it is done, including physically doing it with them in the first quarter. For a math problem we regularly discuss the multiple ways to get to the same answer and I discuss with them a method or two that I use and why or how it helps me. We are constant modelers, so why not model gratitude to our students?
Some easy to implement methods to express our gratitude to our students are:
– Verbal praise and recognition
– Writing the student a note on a post-it
– Writing a longer note on a card
– Discussing with the student something you learned from them
Many of us will find that we are already doing these ideas and so many more, but I want you to push on that reaction of “I already do this” and think about how you know you are doing this for every student in your classroom? For me, keeping a roster with notes and dates checked helps me to make sure I am not missing any students. Although I can understand some who might feel like that is not being authentic, I think of it as more being strategic with my students.
Finally, I have also found it helpful to discuss the ideas of gratitude and thankfulness with your students. We have done this through read-a-louds we have completed, class meetings, and narrative writing prompts. Allowing your students time to think and process what they are grateful for will give them time to embrace this skill. Perhaps even considering allowing them a few minutes at the end of the day to express their gratitude to a peer, family member, or friend through a small note or drawing. It is part of the many soft skills we develop in our students on a daily basis.
As educators, we are fortunate to experience gratitude from our students through sweet notes, hugs, and sometimes even a needed supply donation. So as you sit at your table at Thanksgiving this week and reflect upon what you are thankful for, perhaps take a few minutes over the weekend to consider who you can express your gratitude to your students in a more authentic or diligent way.
Image from “The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change your Life” retrieved from https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/