‘Tis the season of Thanksgiving! This is my favorite season of the year, for so many reasons. The leaves are changing. The weather is cooling off (at least, I assume it is in some parts of the country; in Georgia not so much). Thanksgiving. Christmas lights. And yes, pumpkin spice. Another thing I love to see is people on Facebook doing these “30 Days of Gratitude” type things. November is, after all, the season of Thanksgiving, so why not express our gratitude? There’s only one problem with that – shouldn’t we be grateful all year long?
More and more research is coming out now about how good gratitude is for your health. Publications out of such school as Harvard and UC Berkeley publish frequent articles and research on gratitude. All of the research that’s been done up to this point has been on adults. Wouldn’t it make sense to begin instilling that mindset in our children?
About 8 years ago, I was teaching in a special education classroom for students with severe emotional behavior disorders. We were preparing them for a spring festival, and I told them they needed to bring some things from home to put into the “egg” hunt. One of my boys up front said, “We ain’t got no money. Aren’t you supposed to bring it for us?” I. Lost. My. Mind. I went off on this kid for no less than ten minutes. I informed them that the only thing I was “supposed” to do was show up every day and teach them. That sense of entitlement flew all over me.
Now that I’m older and much much wiser, I tend to think of it from a more pragmatic standpoint. Simply telling these kids that they need to be more grateful is going to go straight through their ears without stopping to lodge itself into their brains. For one, kids learn by example. And another, the practice needs to be consistent and repetitive, until it becomes habit.
Owen Griffith, a teacher and author, outlines some great strategies for destroying the “culture of complaining” in the classroom. This month, I’m going to be going over some of my own ideas for fostering thankfulness in the classroom. What better time than the month of Thanksgiving to begin?
One of the activities is “Thankful ABCs for Students.” And there’s a fun free printable!