It Can Make Schools Better Places to Learn
"I just want to thank Jake for a great discussion at lunch today," Naomi declared at the end of seminar. She went on to say that she appreciated the conversation they had over their bagged lunch, and it made her feel better about other school-related anxieties.
Naomi's comment was authentic, but not unprompted. At the end of every seminar, UVEI participants engage in a ritual we call gratitude: A voluntary time to acknowledge and appreciate colleagues. Gratitude is a complex emotion; People are grateful when they notice and appreciate the good things that happen to them and express thanks to those responsible (Emmons, 2007).
Why do we end sessions with declarations of gratitude and appreciation? Well, a number of reasons.
First, there's a growing body of research about gratitude and how it can make a difference in your overall well-being. It can make you happier and make your workplace more productive. You can listen to a radio special tonight on public radio international about the science of gratitude, or you can listen anytime here: goo.gl/tMrLdH
Second, we model gratitude for teachers because gratitude can enhance student social-emotional and academic outcomes. A study published in the National Society for the Study of Education argues that "fostering students’ gratitude might be one mechanism to provoke and enhance student bonding with" and engagement in school; we know engaged students are likely to have fewer discipline referrals, more likely to graduate high school, and have higher grades.
Although schools can access and use gratitude curriculum, parents and teachers can model showing gratitude at home and in the classroom by noticing when others-- adults or kids-- intentionally help others. Teachers can reinforce acts of kindness and foster rituals similar to UVEI's at the end of every day.
In short, gratitude is good for us-- and good for others. Take a moment this holiday weekend to notice-- and acknowledge-- when others are intentionally kind or helpful.
Emmons, R. A. (2007). Pay it forward: A symposium on gratitude. Greater Good, 4, 12–15.Furlong, Michael; Froh, Jeffrey; Muller, Meagan; Gonzalez, Victoria. "The Role of Gratitude in Fostering School Bonding," National Society for the Study of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Volume 113, Issue 1, pp. 58-79.