5 G.R.E.A.T.! Gratitude Strategies for Teachers That Will Transform Your Classrooms!
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude – the act of feeling appreciation, showing thanks, or returning kindness.
Gratitude is a powerful tool that is often left in an unopened compartment in the proverbial teacher toolbox.
One of the world’s most leading experts in the field of gratitude research is Robert Emmons. Emmons’ research points to many benefits of exercising gratitude both in life and in classrooms.
Emmons says Gratitude:
- Boosts feelings of optimism, joy, and enthusiasm and reduces anxiety and depression.
- Strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness.
- Encourages us to exercise and take better care of our health.
- Promotes better sleep habits.
- Increases resiliency.
- Strengthens relationships and promotes forgiveness.
- Makes us pay it forward and be more helpful and compassionate.
- Increases happiness and satisfaction. In fact, when 10-19 year-olds practice gratitude, they report greater life satisfaction and more positive emotion, and they feel more connected to their community.
- Makes students feel better about their school; it also makes teachers feel more satisfied and accomplished, and less emotionally exhausted, possibly reducing teacher burnout.
I’ve seen the power of gratitude at work in my own classroom and schools, and I know that deliberately planning for ways to infuse gratitude into our work pays off in positive ways.
Here Are 5 Gratitude Strategies That Will Transform Your Classroom
- Gratitude Journal
Have students write three things for which they are grateful and why each day to develop the habit of being grateful and expressing gratitude. I suggest also setting a consistent time where students write in their journals. I’ve found that the best time for me is the beginning of class so that students are engaged in meaningful work while I take care of attendance and other administrivia. To help spark their thoughts, provide them a template that asks them to record gratitude for people, things, places, or events. This is an easy to use template to start:
2. Gratitude Gram
Ask students to write a gratitude gram to one of the people whom they wrote about in their gratitude journal. Have students read the Gratitude Gram to the person. An extra fun strategy is to ask them to video their reading so that the entire class benefits from seeing both the reader and the receiver’s reaction to the experience.
3. Pay it Forward Pledge
Challenge students to have a pay it forward mentality where they do things for others first, without prompting or without recognition for their good deed. Examples might be sharpening the rows’ pencils, dropping .50 into a fellow student’s backpack for extra milk, volunteering to help a fellow student with her homework, or putting away classroom materials before being asked.
4. Planning for Intentional Gratitude
Create intentional spaces in your lesson plans where you weave in thought-provoking questions about how a character is or is not exemplifying gratitude. You might also have students imagine the world without a particular scientific discovery or mathematical idea that makes life easier. Imagining ourselves without something is one way to spark feelings of gratitude for that very thing. Those intentional spaces can also be places where you model being grateful for students and their actions. For example, at the beginning of class, you might say, “Thank you for getting your journals out and being ready to start when the tardy bell rings,” or “I’m so grateful for such awesome students. Thank you for your participation in our lesson today.”
5. Signs of Gratitude
Create visuals to help you and students remember to practice gratitude. Signs about being grateful or practicing gratitude posted by the entrance and exit to your classroom, gratitude posters hung by classroom supply areas or on your desk or lectern are terrific, easy ways to prompt practices of gratitude.
These are just 5 strategies that you can use to get started infusing gratitude into your daily classroom routines. They are proven ways to reap the benefits of exercising gratitude so that students are happier, healthier, and more connected to the school community. Heck, you might even find that when you are grateful as a teacher, you are happier, less burdened by your big job, and more productive in your efforts to impact students. Exercise Gratitude, and Make Today G.R.E.A.T.!
Emmons, R. (2010, Nov. 16.) Why gratitude is good. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good.