Why Teach Gratitude?
Ensure Happiness and Success
We all want what is best for our students. We spend so much time focused on academic standards and test scores, but what if there was a simpler way to ensure happiness and success in your students?
This article from Forbes tells us there is research that shows feeling grateful can both positively affect your mental/emotional state, and help you achieve the life you want.
According to an article by Geoffrey James, “People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.”
According to Psychology Today, showing gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus. This part of the brain controls a wide variety of bodily functions, including eating, drinking, and sleeping. The hypothalamus also affects metabolism and stress levels. So clearly there are also many positive affects on your students’ health!
Prevent Sense of Entitlement
It has been proven that today students show entitlement more than ever before. This is because many students are accustomed to being rewarded for simply participating; they learn less, because they don’t feel the need to do the work.
An article on Huffington Post shares Eight Ways to Combat Entitlement in the Classroom. One suggestion is bringing your students to a place where they can serve others in need. This is because in order to show gratitude, students must recognize and acknowledge they are the recipients of an unearned benefit. After the experience of serving others, your class could benefit from a discussion about gratitude.
Improve Classroom Culture
By putting an emphasis on gratitude, you can positively influence the way your students interact and behave in your class. In order for key elements, like teamwork, community, and appreciation, there needs to be a focus on gratitude.
Students come from all different backgrounds and, just like us, enter the classroom each day with sets of problems that are unrelated to academics. Emphasizing gratitude creates an optimistic atmosphere that is exemplified through the students’ thoughts and behaviors.
How to Teach Gratitude
Teach About Students in Less Fortunate Countries
A powerful way to encourage gratitude in your classroom is to teach about students in less fortunate countries. After my brothers spent a summer teaching and helping in a missionary school in the poorest slum of Nairobi, Kenya, they came back to share the experience with students in the U.S.
Kids were shocked to see the photos of the classrooms there. They soaked up the stories with so much empathy for the kids in Kenya.
They heard about how when a teacher walks out of the classroom there, a student hops right up to continue at the board, because they feel that every second of class time is precious. Education is the key to getting out of the slum. A very small percentage will ever go on to high school, and the ultimate dream is to get to go to college or get out of the area and be able to bring back enough money to help their families.
The American students were amazed to hear that students in the Mukuru slum only eat at school. They come in very hungry Monday mornings after each weekend.
Our students are so used to being in their own bubble. Exposing them to these ideas really helps them see how grateful they should be. Even pulling up some web images of schools in other countries may help. Talk to your students about the beautiful learning environment they have here, and their opportunities.
They will suddenly show a lot more respect for their restrooms, lockers, and books if you handle this conversation well.
Take it a Step Further
If your students seem interested and want to help, consider coming together as a class to sponsor a child. It's really easy to collect just a few dollars per student, and this small amount can cover a child's education in Nairobi (plus a hot meal every day) for an entire year!
Here is the link to sponsor a child: www.marianist.com/oln
This is an easy way for your class to participate. It's a great mission that you can trust. My brothers have seen the school in action firsthand, and I know the provincial of the Marianist Mission personally. My mom's class is even commited to continuing to sponsor their student continually each year! Take advantage of this opportunity to teach your students about generosity and empathy.
An effective way to teach gratitude in your classroom is introducing gratitude journals. Students can carry composition notebooks and each day, write three, specific things they are thankful for. So instead of writing, “I’m thankful for breakfast,” encourage them to write, I’m thankful for the bowl of cereal and the banana I ate this morning.”
Gratitude journals only take a couple of minutes, but are immensely powerful in teaching gratitude!
Be a Model of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude yourself, and being open about it to your students, is the perfect way to help your students learn to practice gratitude, as well. You can make sure you say thank you, show optimism, or even share anecdotes of how you are practicing gratitude.
Students often overlook those who provide service for them, at school and at home. Ask your students to write holiday cards or thank you cards for people who make their lives easier that they never even think about.
Start with a quick chat about the way the custodian ensures that there are enough desks for each child in each room, keeps the floor clean, and keeps the windows and HVAC system working properly so they can be comfortable all day. Help them take a moment to reflect on all the little things they take for granted. You can even make a list on the board by having students contribute ideas of what the school nurse, custodian, secretary, librarian, etc. do for them each day.
Then, they can jot a note featuring one of these things that they are grateful for. This is worth taking time to do! Students who take a moment to think these things through will walk around forever with a different perspective of the people around them.
Focus on empathy. Model putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Try sharing something with your students like “I am so grateful for Mr. Tim myself because some days, there is such a mess on the floor in here, and he has to stay late when I am heading out to be home for dinner with my family. I wonder if we can do a better job keeping this room clean so that he can count on us for a quick sweep and get home a few minutes earlier every night. I bet he’d really appreciate that.”
A Simple Gratitude Lesson
Ask your students to close their eyes and think of somebody who was really influential in their lives, someone who had done something really amazing for them. Then, after some time to reflect, have them write as much as they can about why this person was so important.
Then, show them this video.
After the video, tell them it is their turn to be put on the spot. They must tell their person what they wrote at some point that day.
This simple activity is sure to bring some overwhelming gratitude to your classroom, and maybe even a few heartwarming tears!
I hope this information helps you and your students practice gratitude and leads to all of the many benefits I mentioned! Do you have any other ways to practice or teach gratitude to your students? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
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How to fix the way your students take notes, the way they feel about note taking, and the way they remember the material
Sometimes students just need some teacher explanation in a lecture setting. Even with inquiry lessons, everyone still has to come together to sum it up, share the properties they discovered, and clear up any confusion. Kids need a written guide to reference later.
So, I have broken down the areas in which we need to improve note taking for you to take into consideration and make note day a day the students (and you) look forward to!
Make Note Taking More Effective
Note taking is so essential to your students’ educational success, especially when done in the most thoughtful, effective ways. There are some concepts you should think about incorporating in your lessons to make note taking the most efficient for student learning and retention!
Visual connections make a huge impact in note taking and retention. The key to creating good visual notes is incorporating what I like to call “visual memory triggers.” These triggers are graphics or other images that contain or represent an analogy that helps the student understand and retain information.
Click here to read a post all about How to Create Visual Memory Triggers.
Explicitly Teaching Note Organization
Note taking does not come easily to some students, so it’s necessary to teach some organizational skills in taking notes. Students should be able to understand what information they should write down, and what information is okay to skip.
Secondly, it is helpful for them to be able to go back and easily find a certain piece of information. We want note taking to be helpful for learning during the lecture, but we also want them to be able to refer back to clear, cohesive notes.
Teaching your students to take highly organized notes is so important, especially if they are planning on attending college!
Incorporating color in some way during your lectures is so beneficial for students! Different colors, their combinations, and their placement can have an effect on attention, memory, feelings, and behaviors of students. Check out one of my recent posts, How Color Affects Student Learning.
Notes by Hand
There is a lot of research out there that shows notes are so much better when taken by hand, rather than digitally. Scientific American tells us, that even though people generally type faster than write, more notes aren’t necessarily better.
In three separate studies that compare students taking notes by hand vs. students taking notes by laptop, they found those who wrote out their notes had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material.
Specific Strategies for Note Taking:
For example, if they use blue for all vocabulary words and definitions, they can better recall the words and definitions, or efficiently find it in their notes, later.
The perfect way to get started and decide if Doodle Notes is right for your class is downloading this FREE “Engage Your Brain” Doodle Notes! This page is a perfect way to introduce your class to a new strategy for taking effective notes and how their brain works! They can learn a little about the way the brain reacts when you integrate the left and the right hemispheres.
You will quickly realize all of the benefits and your students will be begging for more Doodle Notes!
Cornell notes have been proven to be effective in student learning. This method involves recording notes during the lecture, asking questions after the lecture, reciting notes aloud, reflecting, and then reviewing.
Make Every Note Day a Great Day!
Make note-taking fun for the students and let them use any of their coloring utensils; this actually helps them remember better! As mentioned earlier, color helps students materialize the content.
Another perfect, simple solution to livening up note day for you and your students is to implement Doodle Notes! When students use doodle notes, the two hemispheres of the brain collaborate to increase focus. They become excited, engaged, and attentive, so their retention is increased.
Students interact with visual triggers that boost their memory for the lesson material. They become proud of their creative work on their page and suddenly begin pulling out their notes sheets consistently to review, show them off, and reference them as a study guide.
Added bonuses include relaxation, coordination, and a boost in problem solving skills. Once students, try it they will be excited to try more! Doodle Notes Days will be days to look forward to. You can download a free handbook on Doodle Notes,here!
Make it a goal of every note-taking day to engage student brains just as much as you do on an activity / practice day. Be sure that they make solid mental connections and then walk away with a clear, colorful graphic organizer that can become their reference guide to look back at later.
I hope you gained some valuable information from this post to help make note taking days as awesome as possible! Do you have any foolproof lecture or note day strategies? Please share in the comments below!
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To Read Next:
Creative & Unique Gift Ideas for Teachers
(That They'll Actually USE)
For the Math/Science Teacher
It’s rare to find a math/science teacher who isn’t a little bit nerdy and would appreciate showing it off to the world (or at least his or her students). To this day, my most-used gifts are my Pi earrings!
Any necklaces, earrings, Tshirts, coffee mugs, etc. that are math or science related will surely be near and dear to your teacher’s quirky side! In addition to options I have listed below, there are so many great math/science teacher gifts on Etsy; these are just a few of my favorites.
Hover / click the image for the links, or scroll down for more ideas!
For the Teacher Who Loves to Decorate the Classroom
You know the type; you walk into the room and you get the feeling every aspect was very thoughtfully curated. Maybe there are string lights adorning the walls or comfy seating attentively placed. Whatever they used, you know designing a pleasing space is important to this teacher. If this is the case, he or she will love items to add to the classroom to make it even more attractive.
For the Organized Teacher
If you know one thing about teaching, you would know teaching requires extraordinary organization. Some teachers enjoy working on this skill more than others, and would love some of these items for planning and staying organized!
For the Teacher Who Needs to Stay Caffeinated
Many teachers, including myself, rely on coffee to perk them up to maintain a friendly disposition and teach their students to the best of his or her ability. So, if you know the teacher is someone who needs coffee, these gift ideas are perfect! You can alter this idea accordingly if your teacher prefers tea, soda, water, etc.
For the Teacher Who Enjoys Creativity in the Classroom
Doodle note materials are perfect to buy for any teacher, because they instantly make lessons more enjoyable and beneficial for students. They aid brain processing to help kids make connections and remember the material, plus kids beg for them as a fun way to spice up lessons. Happy students = happy teacher! Click here to read more on how to implement doodle notes. These sets work for any subject area:
For the Teacher Who Works Late in the Classroom
We all know those teachers who clearly work overtime for the students. If you happen to know the teacher for whom you are hunting for a gift spends hours in his or her classroom, or would simply appreciate a more comfortable work environment, these gifts are the right choice! (Also, see the category below this one, because this teacher probably needs that too!)
For the Teacher Who Needs Some Relaxation
As you’re aware, teaching is a challenging job and can be very stressful at times. Many teachers struggle to designate ample time to take care of themselves, and need a little push for some R&R.
For the Teacher You Have No Clue What to Gift -- (If all else fails!)
If none of these ideas really stick out to you and don’t feel perfect, then a great option is a gift card! Although it takes a little less creativity on your end, gift cards to places we frequently shop are always appreciated. It shows your thoughtfulness, while still allowing teachers to pick out exactly what they like and/or need!
If you’re going the gift card route, make it for something we need, like gas or shoes! Teachers are always in the market for comfy shoes.
Keeping these needs in mind, here are some great stores to buy gift cards for teachers:
Hover / click the image below for links.
Pin the image to save the post and ideas for later:
Did any of these gifts work for you or do you have any ideas to add to our holiday gift guide? Let us know in the comments below! Also, enter your email to subscribe for updates, free math teaching resources, and more!
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