Author: Dawn Mitchell
I know this week is our last full week before our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. As we enter the third week of November, we are reminded about the many blessings we have and what we can be grateful for. I wanted to share with you some powerful ways to incorporate into your teaching the transformative practice of gratitude by Owen M. Griffith in his Edutopia article, Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Your Classroom. Owen explains that by exercising the “gratitude muscle” with a journal, students can harness positive thinking to increase their grades, goals, and quality of life. The primary strategy in this article is keeping a gratitude journal. Whether this is a daily journal article that you begin in November and continue through the end of the semester or if it is a bell ringer activity you do a few times between now and next Wednesday, providing students with opportunities to consider what they are thankful for and then taking time to write them down and share can have a powerful, positive impact on their outlook and within our classroom communities.
Owen explains the research behind this practice of gratitude. “Recent research by two leaders in the field of gratitude and education, Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Jeffrey Froh, supports the idea that gratitude improves the lives of students and adults. They have found several benefits for students and adults.
Keeping a gratitude journal on a daily basis helps students achieve higher grades; higher goals; more satisfaction with relationships, life, and school; less materialism; and more willingness to give back.
Keeping a gratitude journal enables both students and adults to be more optimistic, experience more social satisfaction, exercise more often, have less envy and depression, have fewer physical complaints, and sleep better. I see these positive changes in my students. One of them saved her allowance and bought gratitude journals for her family. Her mom was in nursing school and very stressed. At the dinner table, they would share their gratitudes for the day and grow as a family. The mom came to me and thanked me for teaching gratitude to her daughter and helping her family. She said it helped her get through nursing school.”
I want to bring your attention to a Ted Talk video by Dr. Kerry Howells, a leading researcher into gratitude and education. She actually trains teachers to utilize gratitude in the classroom. Watch her powerful video where she gives examples and evidence of the power of using gratitude in education. How thanking awakens our thinking: Kerry Howells at TEDxLaunceston
South Carolina ASCD President