When things are rough, it’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong or what you don’t have. Finding your way to gratitude can be a game changer.
If your first response to that suggestion is to roll your eyes or mutter, “I don’t have anything to be thankful for,” I urge you to stop and rethink. Even when things are going their worst, there is something to be grateful for.
Practicing gratitude is a great self-care strategy—and by changing your perspective it can make you a better teacher. By practicing gratitude, we learn to find the positive, appreciate what we have, and understand that we can get beyond hard times.
These are great lessons to take to heart and to share with students.
The Better Teacher End of Day Gratitude Practice
At the end of the day, either the school day or the full day, stop to reflect and experience gratitude. Think of 3 good things, things you are thankful for, from that day. They can be related to teaching or to your life outside the classroom.
Write them down. You can keep a special gratitude journal or drop slips of paper into a gratitude jar. You can write them on sticky notes and put them in your pocket or around your house or classroom to remind you what you are thankful for in hard moments.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. Some may not apply but take the ones that do to help prime your own ideas.
I’m thankful that:
- I have a job.
- I helped _____ (student’s name) today.
- The rain held off and we had outside recess.
- I have a home.
- I had a lovely dinner.
- I have colleagues I can laugh with.
- My friends were there when I needed to vent.
- I can move freely—I had a great run (or yoga class or bike ride or . . . ) today.
- The sun was shining.
- Today was better than yesterday.
Your gratitude can be as simple as enjoying your first cup of coffee in the morning or as profound as getting good news after a health scare.
In school, your gratitude might be a student breakthrough, support from a mentor, or seeing an act of compassion.
Be a better teacher by bringing your gratitude practice to class.
At the end of each day ask each student to find something they are thankful for. Have them write it in a journal or share it in a quick round robin.
Write one statement of gratitude on the board each morning. I’m grateful to be here to teach you today. I’m grateful for all I’ve learned from you.
Model gratitude. Thank students for helping you or being kind to each other. Share your gratitude that they had an aha moment or showed effort even as they struggled. Give thanks to other teachers for helping you or your class.
There are so many ways to practice gratitude. However you do it, you’ll be a better teacher and a happier person.
So what are you thankful for?
I’m thankful for the teachers who have helped me along the way—and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with new teachers. The First Year Thrive New Teacher Support Program is now available, to provide the community, support and resources you need to be the best teacher you can be. It doesn’t have to be so hard, and you don’t have to do it all alone.