Guide Students and Staff to Gratitude in Three Simple Steps


November is synonymous with football, food, and family. In the world of education, it’s famous for Thanksgiving Break. Since August, students and staff have been working hard to meet our goals and all we can think of is that glorious, well-deserved week off from school. There is no better month to serve as a platform for counselors to promote the idea of GRATITUDE. Being thankful is not always a natural instinct and students may need guidance when it comes to integrating this into their lives.
Take a look at this article about the connection between gratitude and well-being.

Counselors are known as great listeners and patient problem solvers among many other admirable qualities. During this month make it your mission to be the advocate for thankfulness.  Negativity and stress often overwhelms our students and this can be a great opportunity for you to refocus their thoughts in a more positive direction.

A grateful mindset must be systemic and should start with your campus leadership. CLICK HERE to take a look at the ideas from our TEEN TRUTH’s Instructional Coach, Sarah Hayden, for ideas to help your staff become more appreciative of each other. This positive attitude shift will naturally be felt by students. Here are 3 ideas that you can use with students to promote gratitude at your school.

1. Remind students of what your school has to offer them:

Set up a day, similar to a college fair, that allows staff to promote opportunities available to students. Teachers can set up “booths” that advertise their club, sport, event, etc. New students or those reluctant to engage may have no idea of the many possibilities your school has to offer. Utilize your student leadership groups to spread the word about the positive things going on at your campus. If you would like to learn about how to create impactful student leaders at your school host a school leadership summit or implement a peer-to-peer curriculum.

2. Start a chain reaction that can be seen all over campus:

Create bulletin boards around your campus or within classrooms that allow students to post reasons why they are thankful for their school. You can create themes such as, “Why we have FALLen for our School” and use leaf cut outs for students to post on. Colorful bulletin boards are appreciated by secondary students just as much as elementary kiddos. Encourage your staff members or student leaders to spark a chain reaction.

3. Create a habit of gratitude:

Utilize school wide announcements to allow students and staff to give “Shout Outs”. Periodically utilize your study hall or PGP time to have all students focus on what they are thankful for regardless of how big or small. You can introduce it with a quote, “Take time to be thankful for everything that you have. You can always have more, but you could also have less.” They can write it down or simply take a few moments to share with each other. If it is done school-wide on a consistent basis it may very well create a habit for all students and teachers.

As a counselor you may very well be the only positive role model in a student’s life. As Spider-man’s Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s human nature to notice the negative, so use the power you have as a mentor to guide students towards the mindset of gratitude.  It can have a great impact on your school culture and the lives of the students and staff long after the school year ends. Feel free to use this free lesson on Positive Mindset.

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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