Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

"It's the little things that count."

"Count your blessings."

"Your attitude determines your altitude."

"It is better to give than to receive."

All of these are saying that have become cliche, and perhaps, therefore, less meaningful.  Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be a day of thanks.  Instead, it too often becomes of day of over least in my household.  Why should there be a holiday, though, to remind us to be grateful?  Give thanks at all times.  Make it a habit.  Teach your students to focus on the positive.  More than once, I've sat down and listed all the little successes and blessing as a way to intentionally look at the glass as half full when it felt easier to see it as half empty.  So, here are my top ten suggestions for bringing attitude--an attitude of gratitude to the classroom.

1. Teach them to pay special attention to "the least of these." Principals receive recognition for how the school is doing.  Teachers receive recognition for how the students are doing.  These figures are noticed and thanked for what they do.  No, not all the time, but they aren't invisible.  Who in your building is?  The maintenance or cafeteria staff?  The aides?  Why not dedicate a day to appreciating the people whose work most often goes unnoticed?  Throw them a party of appreciation.  Write thank you notes.  Teach students that everyone is important.

2. Count your blessings.  Don't relegate it to the category of empty cliches; practice it.  Have students write down what they are thankful for and post them in the class.  Be intentional about choosing to give thanks.

3. Catch your students doing something good.  Find the positive in all your students.  Don't let the recognition be for a display, but for something they are caught doing when they don't think anyone is watching.

4. Students may dread having the teacher call home because they are afraid of what they'll say.  Try putting call slips in your classroom that students can fill out requesting a call home for the good things they are doing.

5. Give out class awards.  Have students vote to give each other positive awards and hand them out in a  mini awards ceremony.

6. Teach them to make lemons out of lemonade.  Some of my students have a hard time coming up with positive things to say about themselves, and/or are embarrassed about their past. Teach students to look at their strengths, weaknesses and how to see the silver lining in everything.  For example, students who are coming to school despite academic challenges are resilient, especially the older students who are still sticking it out day after day when other peers in the same boat have dropped out.

7. Have students give each other shout outs.  Have them draw each others' names out of a hat and write down something positive they see in that person.  Read them out at the end of the day.

8. Have them write a thank you note to someone in their life.  They can work on their letter writing skills and their attitude of gratitude at the same time.

9. Have them do something that they will receive no credit for.  When I was growing up we made May Day baskets, filled them with candy, put them on our neighbor's doorknob, rang the bell and ran away before they could see who had been there.  This concept can be applied here

10.  Have students track growth on a self monitoring chart.  Recognize progress instead of accomplishments of uniform goals.

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