A graphic with pumpkins and other fall decor with text reading: Grateful minds: Learning about gratitude in the classroom

Grateful minds: Learning about gratitude in the classroom

Thank you, Superheroes! This time of year can be a whirlwind of lesson plans, final exams, deadlines, and holiday festivities. Your presence here today, amidst the busyness, is truly appreciated.

Gratitude goes beyond a simple “thank you.” Gratitude fosters a positive and inclusive classroom culture, creating an environment where students and educators feel valued and appreciated.

Discover three ways educators can use this powerful concept to build resilience, promote mental well-being, and enhance the joy of learning in the classroom.

Nurture a culture of appreciation

Expressing gratitude in the classroom is essential for creating a collaborative and supportive learning environment. One powerful approach is practicing peer feedback. Through this process, students learn to exchange ideas, provide constructive critiques, and grow as individuals and learners. Find strategies and examples on HelpfulProfessor.com

Creating a gratitude wall is another approach for students to express their appreciation to their fellow classmates. Whether physical or digital, students can write down notes of gratitude, acknowledge acts of kindness, celebrate accomplishments, or highlight fellow classmates’ unique gifts and talents. Use Padlet to create a digital gratitude wall or download Mrs. Learning Bee’s Appreciation Station template for free! 

Integrate gratitude into curriculum 

Integrating gratitude into the curriculum positively influences students’ well-being and academic engagement. Practices like gratitude journaling enhance writing skills, while using art as a medium allows students to express gratitude-related emotions through color, form, and composition. Additionally, connecting gratitude to environmental science fosters expressions of thanks for the natural world, inspiring projects related to conservation, sustainability, and environmental awareness.

Continue fostering multicultural awareness in your classroom by having students explore how cultures around the world express gratitude through their customs, rituals, and traditions. Teach students how to express gratitude in various languages and have them practice expressing thanks in different role-play scenarios.

These are just a few ways to reinforce positive communication skills while honoring different cultures in your classroom.

Strengthen community bonds through gratitude

Student-led appreciation events, driven by the initiative and creativity of students, provide a platform for acknowledging the efforts of peers, educators, and community members. Help students organize an awards ceremony where they recognize and celebrate their peers, teachers, or community members for various accomplishments, talents, or acts of kindness.

Help students plan a day of community service activities such as volunteering at local organizations, participating in environmental initiatives, or assisting community members in need. These events not only express appreciation but also contribute to the well-being of the school community. Read my previous post to learn more ways in which your students can serve their communities. 

As you carry the spirit of appreciation into your classrooms, remember each expression of thanks is a thread in the rich tapestry of shared learning. May your classrooms continue to be hubs of learning, laughter, and heartfelt appreciation. Thank you for all you do, Superheroes!

In what ways can your scholars show appreciation this season? Let us know on social media at @ArizonaEducator on X (formerly Twitter) or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.


About the author

Ashley Burkart, Biology faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College, holds a Masters in Biomedical Science from Midwestern University, where STEM research became her first passion. When she isn’t teaching tomorrow’s leaders, she is either hanging out with her dogs, Raven and Bailey, or hiking the beautiful mountains of Arizona. 

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