Blog: Showing Gratitude

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Recently, @Joe_Kirby wrote a blog post about the value of teaching students the habit of gratitude – you can read it here.  I think he’s absolutely right: it’s important for students to be grateful and to show gratitude. It makes a huge difference.  And he got me thinking about how poor (really poor) I’ve been at showing gratitude myself.

I’m fortunate to work with a group of teachers and support staff who are generous with their time and who, quite remarkably, have been willing to go above and beyond all reasonable expectations to get me out of a number of tricky situations.  A quick example… The EAL Co-ordinator at my school agreed, during the final days of the final week of term, to help run two hours of literacy CPD with me on the first day back in January.  She didn’t need to agree and, of course, she could’ve declined most honourably: I’ve actually got a meeting booked during that slot – I can’t really rearrange it – but I’d love to help out at some other point.  I thanked her (of course), told her how grateful I was, said I’d email her with the details (of course), and then quickly scuttled away to teach my next lesson.  And that was it.  Job done.  Unimpressive, right?

So, what’s my point?  Nothing more than this, really: in schools, it’s easy for staff at all levels not to show gratitude in a way that’s meaningful.  And I’m far guiltier than most for not taking the time to show proper gratitude, despite frequently feeling incredibly grateful.  It’s something that, periodically, I promise myself I’ll get better at: I’ll make that announcement in briefing, write those Christmas cards, buy those bottles of wine…

Schools rely so heavily on good will.  It seems strange that, amidst all those headlines about staffing shortages and falling morale, we can all, at least occasionally, fail to say a proper thank you to those around us (and, actually, make ourselves feel better in the process by doing so).  In Joe’s school, students are encouraged to write praise postcards once every half-term; the same thing happens at my own school.  It’s a system that I believe works well.  So, teacher praise slips?  Nah. I’m not sure we need them quite yet.  However, I do believe that, in this profession, and particularly at this time, meaningfully showing gratitude, and being shown gratitude, really does matter because it’s all about feeling valued.

Nicky Morgan, take note…

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