Greetings, fellow educators! How’s your school-year going? So far, so good? It’s November and the calendar is clicking along - no surprises there. I’m guessing that all your classroom routines are set in motion and the realities of teaching and learning are revealed. How’s your teacher stamina holding up? Are your worries and challenges balanced by enough inspiration?
In case you need a boost, here’s one easy way to grab some some teacher inspiration. I’m a big believer in the superpower of gratitude. It’s a prized personal and professional feeling that leads to a place of focus and deeper meaning for work - and life! And even better - when I connect to the core of my thankful heart, that’s when I also feel great joy.
Brene Brown is a renowned researcher and storyteller whose work covers the globe and is relevant for teachers who care about their classroom climate and/or home life. Watch this short video clip to understand the powerful research connection Dr. Brown discovered between joy and actively-practicing gratitude.
There are hundreds of personal empowerment possibilities here: have you ever considered your own understanding and relationship with joy and gratitude?
Here’s a grateful video from www.gratefulness.org, which offers a beautiful, reflective perspective on “A Grateful Day” with Brother David Steindl-Rast. Gift yourself five quiet minutes to view these insights and imagery on gratitude.
Since you landed here at the Chalk Blog today, I ask you to imagine how to teach gratitude in your classroom. Think about teaching and learning gratitude through creating a caring classroom environment. The sky’s the limit with how much inspiration and motivation can be generated from even one focus lesson on the topic of gratitude. Even better, how about a reading or writing assignment related to gratitude? When students are invited to explore this topic, there are guaranteed learning opportunities and powerful engagement with a life skill that carries beyond school days and years.
In my years of teaching 6th grade ELA, I offered a gratitude essay option during the month of November. In the pace of review and practice for the standard 5-paragraph essay, students were ready to draft a narrative essay expressing three things for which they were most grateful. I discovered this topic to be universally accessible and engaging with profound writing responses regarding things that matter most. I witnessed this writing project provide our classroom community with shared truths and beliefs that connected us beyond many other 6th grade content requirements. These gratitude essays filled us with joy and a valuable sense of community and kinship. From simple, silly things like cool mechanical pencils to soccer team success to enough food to eat - we were empowered by our gratitude.
Another gratitude writing option I offered my students was quick-draft thank you notes to former teachers for memorable lessons they taught or encouragement and support they provided. Imagine the smiles and warm fuzzies these created. Talk about joyful outcomes!
Psychotherapist and author Amy Morin shared collected research on gratitude in her Forbes magazine article, "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round.” Here’s her list.
- Opens the door to more relationships.
- Improves physical health.
- Improves psychological health.
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Promotes better sleep.
- Improves self-esteem.
- Increases mental strength.
Whoa! Put me down for “YES” on getting more gratitude! Teachers want and need these benefits - and so do our students! Start engaging with gratitude yourself and then consider how your students can benefit from a mini lesson, reading or writing activity, extension opportunity, collaborative project, or simple community-building game that connects to gratitude. We simply must embed these social-emotional learning opportunities no matter what grade or subject we teach. I promise you, the outcomes will be nothing short of heart-warming and revitalizing. Joy will spring forth - that’s a gratitude guarantee.