3 Gratitude Practices to Boost SEL at Your School Today

One important SEL (social and emotional learning) skill is the ability to practice gratitude. According to the Character Lab, gratitude is, "appreciation of the benefits we receive from others and the desire to reciprocate."

Why gratitude?

It is so easy to forget that small everyday actions can actually create a big impact. For example, sharing your appreciation can improve motivation and life satisfaction. Noticing a small act of kindness and sharing your thanks can shift the entire climate of your class and eventually, school. In fact, simple tokens of gratitude can strengthen bonds among students, teachers, and administration. However, gratitude goes beyond recognition. Studies have shown that when someone receives appreciation, they feel more socially valued and this can lead to prosocial behavior.

For example, a teacher in Massachusetts who encouraged her students to give thanks more often immediately saw results.

“I started hearing students say thank you more and they became more verbal about how much they could help each other,” she states. “The students also started to notice and self-regulate when they were not being grateful and they reminded each other to be happy about what they do have.”

Merely by practicing gratitude with her students, this teacher from Massachusetts saw immediate cultural and behavioral changes. Is there a way you could incorporate more gratitude practice with your students? Here are three easy ideas.

  • Gratitude Bulletin Board: Put up a bulletin board in your office dedicated to thanks notes. Leave strips of paper or post notes for students to write shout outs. A simple sentence guide such as: I’m grateful for because they... can help students get started.
  • Gratitude Jar: Place a jar in an accessible location in your classroom. Create a moment at the start or end of the week for students to compose a thank you note. At the end of the month, read the notes aloud or decorate the room with students’ notes.
  • Send digital Thx notes: Have students write an email expressing their thanks. Share the following Thx template to help students write more meaningful notes.

Or sign up for GiveThx which allows students to quickly send digital thank you notes to each other. The program already uses templates to help encourage thoughtful note writing as well as provides user insights on class culture!