I took on the challenge of gratitude for two weeks in my classroom. As a 4th grade teacher, I feel as though respect and gratitude is something that is not necessarily taught on a constant basis to all students at home. For this reason, I find myself trying to instill such ideals into my students. Being given this #GratitudeExperiment, I felt it necessary to jump in — head first! We began by brainstorming what gratitude meant and what we were thankful for. The kiddos made a chart with three (3) sections (things, places, and people) and had to make a list under each column. They were to do this for five (5) minutes each night for two (2) nights. We shared our lists aloud and compared how many were grateful/thankful for many of the same people, places, and things.

The biggest, if not most important part of this whole experience, was the response I received from a teacher in the building. After writing out our Sevenzo cards of gratitude, the cards were placed in teacher mailboxes. At the end of the day, Mr. Newton approached me to say thank you. I told him that the students were given a list of staff within the building and were to think of what those people did, and why they were important. They were to choose someone to address their card to that embodied someone that makes a difference and/or they appreciate. After telling him this, he felt even more thankful. To him, it meant so much more coming from the student when he realized that I did not distribute names, but gave them a choice.

Having witnessing the true emotion from a teacher that does so much, but may not be recognized as he should be, made my heart smile. To know that one simple act from student to adult could be so powerful is what this is all about. Each day, I walk into the classroom in hopes that I can touch even one student and yet they never cease to amaze me when I come out learning more from them than they do from me.

Students are capable of showing gratitude and can do so if we just stop and give them a chance. It breaks my heart to hear those say that they are “those students” or they are “just in elementary” and “can’t” do this or that. So yes, our students are in fact “those students” — those students that are going to change the world. Our students are “just in elementary” and have a greater growth mindset than many adults for they are ready for change and see the world differently. Our students “can’t” be great unless we believe in them.

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