Last year our school began identifying students that the teachers were grateful to have in their class. Of course teachers are grateful for each of their students so it was powerful to see the variety of students who were chosen and more importantly why.
We continued the Gratitude Project this year and it was expanded as well. Our Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) team started “Gratitude Grams.” These handwritten cards were distributed to teachers and they talked with the kids about how to fill them out. Kids chose other kids and staff members. I even received a few and one of them that really impacted me because the student said, “I wanted to give you a Gratitude Gram because you always talk about it. It’s your thing.” Wow, I do talk about it a lot and honestly it is my thing!
Prior to sending out the 275 Gratitude Letters to the parents of the students selected, I read through the comments. This activity restores my faith in our profession. Our teachers, who are underappreciated in society, take time out to say the most beautiful things about our kids. They also thank me for the activity because as one said, “It forces me to look for the good in everyone.” That’s it! Sometimes we need to just simply be grateful for who or what we have.
Here are some of the most touching comments our teachers wrote in the Gratitude Letters.
His dramatic explanations of what we are learning in class have brought a smile to my face many times. He has a way of explaining things that help classmates understand information in a humorous way.
She is a selfless and kind student, who is mature beyond her years. I am grateful to have such a respectful and hardworking student in my class.
“She is not only an excellent student, but she has a heart made out of gold. She is a sweet and compassionate young lady, who I asked to assist me with a particular student, who needs extra reassurance. She did not hesitate to take on this responsibility, she is an excellent role model, and example of what our six grade students represent here at Lakeside Middle
This year I filled out about 20 Gratitude Letters myself. Prior to starting, I was feeling like we all feel prior to a break… I had so much to do and not a lot of time. After I wrote out my Gratitude Letters I can say that I felt different. It changed everything, it changed my world!
About the Author
Spike C. Cook, Ed.D., Principal, Lakeside Middle School, Millville, NJ. In addition to being a Principal, Dr. Cook published two book through Corwin Press (Connected Leadership:It’s Just a Click Away; Breaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader). He is the co-host of the popular PrincipaPLN podcast and his blog, Insights Into Learning, was recognized as a finalist for Best Administrator Blog by the EduBlog Awards. Connect with @drspikecook via Twitter.