Gratitude is a word which is used a lot these days, but what does it really mean?
Well, it is about being grateful. Grateful for; what you have, for the people in your life and for the opportunities your have been given.
Why is gratitude a magical thing to introduce into your school?
Well, there are lots of reasons.
It’s so easy to focus on the things we don’t achieve. The media are always very quick to jump on failure but rarely look at all the amazing things happening in the world.
We as humans seem to be pre-programmed to dwell on our inefficiencies and almost ignore our triumphs. Gratitude is a great way to reset the balance a little.
It is a basic human emotion to be thankful for the things we have. But in the modern world, we increasingly take basic things such as food and shelter for granted. Teaching children to be grateful can only be a good thing, even if it only helps them to put into perspective the fact that “everyone else” has the latest gadget and they don’t! It is also proven to increase happiness considerably (if you want to read some science you can do so here.) Happier children are more confident, more cooperative, are less likely to be influenced by others and, importantly for schools these days, they achieve more.
With more teachers leaving the profession than entering it we need to make sure that the teachers who are committed to being awesome educators, those who are enthusiastically entering the classroom for the first time and those who are already considering walking away, learn how to cope with the pressures of the job.
So how can we learn to focus on the positives? Well I have a gratitude jar on my desk which I add little notes into every time something magical happens. This is my Gratitude Jar. This is mainly for work related gratitude; when I get some amazing feedback from a school or I create a resource I’m really proud of. Then I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night. It lives on my bedside table and I am now on my third notebook. I have been writing 10 things I am grateful for every night for about 3 years now I think, maybe longer. It really is a great way to record the key events of your day but in a positive and uplifting way.
How can you encourage an “attitude of gratitude” in your school?
Here are some of my favourite ways:
- Gratitude Jars – This is one of my favourite things in the whole world. You have probably seen it on social media at this time of year. It is so simple but so effective. All you need is a container and some scraps of paper. Simply write a little note every time something happens which you are grateful for. “I am so proud of the whole class because they were so well behaved on the school trip today”, “I am delighted that Sarah wrote her name for the first time” whatever it might be. Write it down, date it and pop it in the jar. You can write them all or you can allow the children to pop their own notes in too. Then when you are feeling like nothing is going right or at the end of term, read through some of the achievements in your jar.
- Gratitude Journals – Similar to the Gratitude Jar, but this involves each child writing three things they are grateful for in a book or journal every day. This helps older children to really look at what makes them happy and how others are helping them in their daily lives.
- Gratitude Display – Why not make a display of all the things your class are grateful for at the start of the term? Write thank you letters to someone who has done something special for them. Have your gratitude big and bold in your room.
- Staff Gratitude Display – Many schools are now including a display in the staffroom where teachers and support staff can thank other members of the school for their help or for an action which really helped them.
- Random Acts of Kindness – Why not choose one child or member of staff every week to receive a random act of kindness? It may be a little note saying something positive or a small gift.
- Circle Time Games – Circle time is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude. You can ask each child to thank another member of the class for something. Give them a chance to say thank you for something that has happened to them or something they have received. Encourage them to think about all the amazing things they have which many children do not.
I hope this will give you a few ideas for how you can encourage your school to be more grateful. Start with yourself. Why not start a gratitude journal? It will begin to have an impact on you, your classroom and on the school. I am very grateful that you have taken the time to read this post. I am thankful to everyone who takes something away and implements it in their school.
Thank you x