Not surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of “sitting” time while on maternity leave and one of my favorite ways to feel productive, while sitting idle, is to listen to podcasts. One of my favs is “The Tim Ferriss Show” (thanks, Aunt Carol). I am so inspired by the way in which Tim approaches each day. Granted, I don’t usually have hours to spend on me in the morning during the school year to meditate, free write and write in a gratitude journal; that would be wonderful. But it has inspired me to find ways in which to incorporate small pieces of this into my life throughout the year and I’ve come up with a plan on how to incorporate gratitude in my classroom and school relationships. Tips I’m sharing with you today.
Why put forth so much effort to show gratitude? … Sounds silly and obvious, I know. But practicing gratitude has proven benefits for those who purposefully express it and it can transform your school and your experience within it. Here’re just a few ways gratitude can benefit you:
-Lower stress levels
-Strengthen your immune system and lower blood pressure
-Harbor more joy, optimism, and happiness
-Act with more compassion
-Feel less isolated
Now, if that’s not enough reasons why you should plan to practice gratitude, I’m not sure what is. Furthermore, who wouldn’t want to work in an atmosphere where this was general practice? But, before we dive into plans to incorporate gratitude in the classroom, let’s take note of our headspace at the moment. In this spirit of giving and gratitude, we often allow more room for actions of gratitude in our schedule, which is why this is a perfect time to start a new routine. Let’s tap into that recharged spirit to plan for gratitude ahead of time. Genius, right?
So here we go. Here are a few tips to plan for gratitude towards; your students, your students’ families, your colleagues, and your admin. Some of these tips are about creating a habit and some are templates to create now, to make expressing gratitude in the moment easier.
Expressing gratitude towards your students: Consider ending each block or class period with a statement of gratitude towards your students as a whole. It’s important that these statements are genuine and short and to the point. By ending each class with a statement of gratitude you can effectively establish an area of trust, make a human connection, and influence your students to practice their own habit of gratitude. If you have a particularly difficult class or frustrating lesson it’s even more important to express gratitude! There’s nothing more disarming to a teenager than thanking them for something inherently good about them when they have treated a situation poorly. I would bet that your students will be more excited about returning to a class where they feel respected and valued. Examples might include: “thank you for an engaging class period today and your willingness to take risks;” “I’m so thankful to be surrounded by energetic youth who remind me to dream big,” or “Thank you for supporting each other in a safe learning environment as we step out of comfort zones this week.” Give it a go.
Expressing gratitude towards your students’ families: Often times I dread contacting families because it is usually accompanied by an issue or problem that needs to be resolved or supported. Rarely do I carve out time to contact families to let them know how well their student is doing or what a pleasure they are to work with. That’s ridiculous! What I’ve done to make this easier is I have prewritten email templates for various positive messages to send home (work improving, treats others with respect, a pleasure to be around, etc). At the end of each week, or during a prep period, I’ll select one or two students who have stood out recently to send a positive message home. Simply copy and paste from the template and make a new, positive connection with a family and their student in two minutes or less. Download a copy of my templates below and you’re on your way!
Create a habit to show gratitude towards your colleagues and admin: Buy a simple thank you card pack at the store, not more than $2 or $3 and leave it on your desk in a visible area. Each time you see your thank you card stack, think of someone who has gone out of their way to support you that week or is a pleasure to work with, you name it, and write them a quick thank you note. If you’re lucky enough to receive classroom supplies from a student at the start of the year, write a personal thank you immediately and send it home to show your gratitude. Sending an email to thank someone will suffice, but I think there is a stronger emotional, human connection to a written card. If the individual works at your school, don’t track them down, just leave it for them in their box or on their desk and it will brighten their day! I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of this gesture and it feels great! Thank you!
The opportunities are endless and the effort is minimal, but the benefits are immeasurable! What are some other ways you can incorporate gratitude in your classroom? I’d love to hear!
Prep for a year full of gratitude now, while you’re in the right headspace. I’m looking forward to returning to a school year full of gratitude and appreciation. I feel blessed to have found a platform where I can share my dreams and goals with all of you. Thank you!