Using Gratitude in the Classroom

Focusing on what we are grateful for increases our happiness and helps us out of the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill happens when a persons attitude maintains stable despite changes in fortune and achievements. If getting a new car, a new house, a new girlfriend or new _____ isn't going to make you any happier in the long run then what will?

Gratefulness is one thing that will. It does so by getting us to focus on the positive. Psychology professor and author Martin Seligman, suggested writing three good things that happened in your day down daily or you could write three things that you are grateful for down. In NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children the authors mention that students in one study who kept a weekly gratitude journal were 25% happier, more optimistic about the future and exercised more than those who did not.

How can gratitude be used in the classroom?

It can be used the same way as you can use it personally. Here are two ways that it can be used.

  1. Have students write about 3-5 things daily or weekly that they are grateful for. This can be used as a warm-up activity or possibly integrated into the lesson. It can used as a weekly ritual in your classroom. Rituals are a successful part of classroom management.
  2. Have your students write a letter of appreciation to someone whom they are especially grateful for. After they have finished the letter have them read it out loud and to the person if they are present. If they are not present you can maybe have them call that person on the phone.

Why use gratitude in the classroom?

We can use it to increase our students happiness and to make them more successful. It will also make your classroom a more enriching environment.

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