Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Positive Relationships

22

Nov

GRATITUDE: At Work, Home, and School

 

by Edward DeRoche, Ph.D., Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego

“GRATITUDE CAN TRANSFORM COMMON DAYS INTO THANKSGIVINGS, TURN ROUTINE JOBS INTO JOY AND CHANGE ORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES INTO BLESSINGS.” William Arthur Ward

In December 2014, I wrote a blog about “gratitude and empathy.”

I noted that Robert Emmons (see below) called gratitude the “queen of the virtues,” and I suggested that empathy might be the “king.”

Let’s focus on the “queen” during this Thanksgiving month.

Thanks to research, here is what we know. Gratitude properly understood and rendered “leads to active appreciation of others.” Gratitude has “positive effects on health,” “fosters positive relationships” and “joy;” that is, the stronger our relationships, the happier we are.

Emmons and other researchers have found “three surprising ways that gratitude influences what one does at work.”

One, gratitude facilitates better sleep because “grateful people enjoy more restful, restorative, and refreshing sleep, and reap the benefits at work the next day.”

Two, gratitude is the “antidote to entitlement” and “to other aspects of a toxic workplace culture….When people are experiencing gratitude, they are “less likely to be annoyed, irritated, and aggressive.”

Three, grateful people make better “organizational citizens” — “more likely to volunteer for extra work assignments, take time to mentor co-workers, be compassionate when someone has a problem, encourage and praise others, and are more likely to be creative at work….Gratitude promotes innovative thinking, flexibility, openness, curiosity, and love of learning.”

A National Association of School Psychologist’s article titled “Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude: Tips for Parents” suggests that parents at home help their children develop an attitude of gratitude through a variety of simple acts and activities.

These every day activities include modeling practicing gratitude, encouraging children to think about it, sharing and reinforcing grateful behaviors, using visual reminders, making grateful posters, and keeping a “good stuff” journal.

They suggest that every night parents take a few minutes with each child to write down the positive experiences that happened during the day. They recommend that next to each positive event, their child write a reflection using questions such as:

Why did this good thing happened and what did you learn from it?

What does this good thing mean to you and how can you help have more of it tomorrow?

What ways will you or others contribute to this good thing?

Studies also show that positive parent relationships are associated with gratitude. (Gratitude Works Program, wwwnaspoliner.org)

Now that we know how gratitude influences the workplace, and have some ideas on how to nurture and foster gratitude at home, let’s examine three gratitude lessons.

The lessons come from an article by Vicki Zakrzewski in the November 2016 issue of Greater Good. I selected it because I liked the format of the lessons. That is, I found it to be an excellent idea for formatting all instructional lessons that teachers create.

The format is this:

(a) a lesson objective

(b) a lesson concept –in this case the concept is gratitude

(c) a social-emotional competency

(d) the materials needed

(e) a list of instructional activities

(f) “extension” suggestions for the lesson

The three lessons described in the article all related to the topic of gratitude:

1. “Acts of Kindness” for K-2 students

2. “Food Gratitude” for students in grades 3-5

3. “People Who Make a Difference” for students in grades 6-8

One final point, researchers at Berkeley surveyed 400 students ages 12-14 and found that students “who were more likely to be grateful to others showed higher academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement, and had lower interest in risky behaviors.”

Who is Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.?

He is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is the author of the books Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, and The Little Book of Gratitude.

25

Oct

Bully

Teachers Can Impact Bullying More Than They Realize

Summary:  This article reports on programs that can help stop bullying and the role that SEL can play in creating safe spaces for students. The role that teachers can play in stopping bullying is also outlined in this article.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 24, 2017

Categories:  Anti-bullying, Positive Relationships, Classroom Practices, SEL Basics

13

Oct

Developing Professional Relationships That Work

Summary:  This article shares reflections on the importance of developing positive professional relationships with colleagues and supervisors, offering some “guiding principles” on developing a positive climate.

Source:  Carl Draeger, Education Week, September 27, 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, School Culture/Climate, Teacher Collaboration, Emotional Intelligence

12

Oct

Reading

Parents! Live Your Life With Integrity Every Day

Summary:  This article from Linked-In explains why it is important for parents to model the values they want to instill in their children.  The article also suggests some behaviors that will help parents be strong role models for their children.

Source:  Maurice Elias, Linked-In, October 12, 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, Core Values, Parenting

12

Oct

“Our Students’ Relationships Start With Our Own”: A Special Educator’s Open Letter to Teachers

Summary:  This is an open letter from a special education teacher to her teacher colleagues which makes a number of points about differences and similarities between special education teachers and general education teachers.  One of the main points is that positive relationships between teachers leads the way to positive relationship between students.

Source:  Sasha Long, Education Week, October 11. 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, Special Education, Educational Equity, Empathy

11

Oct

Positive Words Go a Long Way

Summary:  This article talks about the long lasting effects of positive language and support for student effort.  The author suggests five ways that positive language can be used to empower students.

Source:  Alissa Nucaro, Edutopia, October 2, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Positive Relationships, School Culture/Climate

11

Oct

Social-Emotional Learning Can Begin on the Bus Ride

Summary: This article reports on a project at Butler University where bus drivers were trained on how to form positive relationships with students during their rides to and from school and how to teach them ways to cope with stressful situations at home or during the school day.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 10, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Emotional Intelligence, School Culture/Climate, Positive Relationships

22

Sep

Compassion as a Classroom Management Tool

Summary:  This article shares the reflections of a second-year teacher on her change of heart in how she managed her classroom.  Instead of using an approach characterized by strict rules enforcement, she adopted an approach based on compassion and caring for her students.

Source:  Andrea Marshbank, Edutopia, September 19, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Relationships, Classroom Practice

22

Sep

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for an Emergency — and How Can SEL Help?

Summary: This article touches on how schools prepare for crisis situations and how to build resilience to deal with trauma before, during, and after an emergency incident occurs.  The author contends that SEL and building relationships is an important step in the process.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education Dive, September 18, 2017

Categories:  School Safety, School Culture/Climate, School Health, Mental Health, SEL Basics, Positive Relationships

24

Aug

Improving Your Parent-Outreach Strategy

Summary:  This article provides suggestions and strategies for communicating with parents.  Most of these communication methods use technology and cellphone apps, classroom blogs, and websites to keep parents in the loop, reduce your workload, and boost student engagement.

Source:  Jeff Knutson, Edutopia, August 23, 2017

Categories:  Parent Engagement, Technology, Positive Relationships, Student Achievement