Attending school online is both demanding and rewarding. At iForward Online Charter school students attend the free public program from their homes for many reasons. Sometimes, they’ve had a challenging time in a traditional setting and are looking for an alternative. In other instances, their homes are located in remote corners of Wisconsin, making it hard to join an in-person program.
Thanks to GiveThx one motivated teacher has been able to build community despite the distance between her students. Kailee Hager, a veteran 10 year teacher, thinks of her online classroom as a family. Like a family, while there are good days and tough days, everyone benefits from being valued and feeling connected. Kailee’s class used gratitude practice to name and recognize the positive traits in those around them to appreciate and value the members of their community.
Here is where Kailee did something remarkable. Outside of her classroom family, Kailee has also introduced GiveThx to her students’ actual families at their request. ”I’ve had so many kids at the end of school ask me, ‘can you print off the positive comment that my classroom friend has given me?’; ‘Can you share that with my family?'"
Kailee shared that students regularly request everything from sending screenshots of notes home to sharing their thx notes and strengths inventories at conferences with their families. For Kailee, what’s most impressive about sharing these notes is not only the joy the students feel from revealing them to their relatives but also the influence the notes have on students’ family members themselves.
“I have seen so many of these kids [share notes] with their families. And these families had felt like these kids were lost. And then they would just melt. I could see the sigh of relief. They would say to me, ‘I thought my kid didn’t have anything or anybody. And my kid does. They do have somebody”.
Kailee explained how the thx notes also showcase the depth of emotion and kindness of which their child is capable. ”I’ve had several families that have said, ‘I had no idea my kid was so capable of the amount of gratitude, empathy and compassion they’re showing here”.
What’s remarkable about the thx notes for Kailee is that you can’t contest the notes. She says, “You can’t argue with the writing. You can’t argue with the fact of what’s written on there [GiveThx]. It’s one thing to say, oh yes your kid has a lot of friends. Yet, it’s quite another to see all the kind wonderful things that somebody says about your kid”.
Students feeling isolated and disconnected is a real threat. Whether learning online or in person, all students from any social background seek connection, confidence, and confirmation that they bring value to and are valued by their community. GiveThx brings students, teachers, and families together to appreciate each other. It helps families see their children in a new light, that they are capable of profound empathy and gratitude. It reassures them that their kids belong, and that they are not alone.
Join our community of supporters. Help bring more students, teachers and families together with GiveThx.