As we start a new School year let me share a story with you.
James was an anomaly at school. He lived in a shelter with his mother, where nutritious meals and restful sleep were scarce. Every morning late model cars and SUVs arrived at the school as parents dropped off their children, while James commuted by bus.
Winter approached, yet James still wore a summer shirt, prompting his teacher to give him a jacket she had picked up from Lost Property. It was a kind gesture, but a sixth grader in an over-sized jacket meant one thing – a bully target. James wasn’t embarrassed by wearing a jacket that was a few sizes too big - instead he was smiling from ear to ear. He would say things like “Sir, check out the jacket my teacher gave me, I can’t stop thanking her.” James stood in the hallway wearing an old oversized jacket, tired and hungry - yet expressing gratitude. Most other students wore brand new uniforms, slept in comfortable beds, were well fed, and yet wanted more.
What an incredible picture this story paints. Wouldn’t we all love to have students like James – always thankful regardless of their circumstances. What a different school community we would have. Well, it can happen! The Bible talks a lot about being Thankful in all circumstances. Psychology has clinically proven that developing Thankfulness and Gratitude in children at school has resulted in increases of up to 35% in academic levels, 30% in social skills and relationships, and, while it was not a target of the research, up to 30% decrease in bullying was recorded.
In 2019 we released our School Gratitude Program Teacher’s Guide containing a variety of activities for students from Kindergarten to Year 12. Activities that teach and equip students to have a Grateful attitude. We tell students to "Do this and do that" or “Don’t do this and that” but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. We cannot legislate Gratitude. What we can do is teach students of all ages how to look at life differently – the way James in our story above looked at life. What we can do is help equip students to deal with the difficulties that will come upon them so that they are not overwhelmed or crushed by them. It does not mean that Gratitude is the be-all to end-all, but it does mean we can take a big step in better equipping and empowering our students to live a more fulfilling life.
Have a look at our School Gratitude Program on the website. This year we have released three Gratitude Journal resources that can be purchased and used by students. There are Free downloads available for use in the classroom to help make your job easier.
Throughout 2020 we will endeavour to release articles that we hope will be an encouragement to teachers. If you care to share your classroom story, please feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great 2020 School year.
Robert J Burman
Coordinator – Thanks.org.au