Updated October 23rd 2021
In a world where 275 million adults and young people suffer from anxiety and depression, mental health continues to remain a hot topic in psychology and education. The rate of suicide in young people in the US between the ages of 10 to 24 increased nearly 60% between 2007 and 2018, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rise in suicidal cases grew in most US states, with 42 of them experiencing significant increases. Worldwide, 1 in 3 people suffer with a mental health disorder.
As an educator, my role has always been to ensure I teach the child before the book. Many educators now refer to this as “Maslow’s” before “Bloom’s”, highlighting the need for all teacher’s to recognize a child’s needs on the Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs Pyramid before Bloom’s Taxonomy for Higher Order Learning. It doesn’t matter how many teaching tricks you have up your sleeve, if educators fail to recognize a child’s basic needs for a balanced diet, enough water, a full night’s sleep, safety and a caring home, students will fail to achieve “flow” and teaching will remain a constant uphill struggle.
The power of gratitude (and why it matters)
12 Week Gratitude Journal $11.99
“Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.” (WHO) in addition to this being the “second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.” (WHO). Despite these dire numbers, recent research in science and psychology has highlighted one leading cure for unshackling us from toxic emotions: the power of gratitude
A 2014 study published in Emotion, shed light on the benefits of forming a daily practice of appreciation, resulting in significant positive impact on the participants social skills and their ability to form new friendships and strengthen social relationships. A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences explained how people who practice gratitude daily have reported fewer illnesses, aches, and pains, overall benefiting not only a person’s social and emotional health, but their physical health, too. With a daily practice of gratitude, warding off negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression and stress, benefits a person’s physical, social and emotional health, having a direct result on their productivity and esteem.
A leading gratitude researcher, A. Emmons (Ph.D), has produced a range of data that highlights the clear link between gratitude and personal well-being. His research shows that gratitude has the undeniable power to overcome toxic emotions and negative thinking habits, such as low self-esteem, envy, greed, grudges, anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking, so we can see how important gratitude is as an important habit both young people and adults should develop.
Teaching gratitude in schools
100 Days of Gratitude Journal | $6.99
Gratitude is for everyone. Whether you are a teacher, a home-schooling parent, caregiver or student. As educators, I believe we should not only be practicing daily gratitude ourselves, in order to better our own lives and mental well-being, but also to ensure that our students and children develop the means to form a habit of daily gratitude, too.
Teacher’s are, now more than ever, under increasing amounts of pressure in their roles as educators, therefore forming a daily habit of gratitude is crucial you, just as much as it is for your learners. I encourage all school administrators to encourage gratitude amongst their staff, by first modeling it themselves, taking the time to celebrate your teachers and staff, and the hardwork that is done, before ensuring space and time is provided for your staff and educators to practice gratitude. This is a practice that could be easily weaved into a department meeting and a weekly gratitude email.
So where do I start? Developing a daily practice of gratitude
Developing a daily practice of gratitude is simple: find something you are grateful for every day and take note.
There are different ways this can be accomplished, for example, keeping a daily gratitude journal, keeping gratitude post-its, forming the habit of practicing gratitude verbally (e.g. speaking out what you are grateful for each day), and keeping a gratitude log to monitor how often you practice daily appreciation. Another strategy is keeping a gratitude jar, where each day you add in a note of something you’re grateful for. Keeping a gratitude jar can be great fun at the end of the year when you look back at all you have been blessed with in your life, and they’re a great tool to use in the classroom, too!
Whichever method you chose, it’s important to find a practice that you know you’ll stick with. I recommend starting off with a small commitment of gratitude practice daily, and you wil see that more gratitude will follow.
Take on the gratitude challenge and see the results for yourself.
12 Week Gratitude Journal $7.99
The gratitude journals in this post are The Ponder Box original products, available on Amazon. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Check out our PSHE Lesson on Gratitude
This 14 Slide Powerpoint is the ideal lesson for introducing the concept of gratitude to students between the ages of 11-16. Included in this resource is the definition of gratitude, an exploration of what gratitude means to your students and how often they practice it, key facts surrounding the benefits of gratitude, and a whole class gratitude challenge. Students will also practice their essay writing skills throughout this lesson. This resource includes one full lesson and two additional follow on lessons. An excellent resource for the homeroom/form class or the English / Global Citizenship classroom.