Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

One of the topics we discuss in the field and in our writing is how there are non-academic means to academic ends. Of course we all know there are academic means to academic ends: You have to have good reading programs and time on task to teach students to read. And you have to have a good math curriculum to teach students math. Having a solid scope and sequence, clear rubrics and objectives, and valid assessments are critical to any successful effort to support student learning.

Yet, time and time again we see teachers and administrators underestimating the power of the non-academic, not only as something important in its own right (it is), but also as something that brings about desirable academic outcomes. The most obvious example of this is frequently reported in focus groups by students who say they work harder academically for teachers they believe care about them as people. On the flip side of this coin, we also hear that students will withhold their effort in classes taught by teachers who they perceive as uncaring and disrespectful. Though they know they are likely the only ones harmed by this, they refuse to give such a teacher "the
satisfaction."

Among the non-academic sources of positive academic outcomes is thankfulness. In a study of gratitude in adolescents, it was discovered that grateful students achieved a higher grade point average, as well as attained a number of other positive outcomes such as life satisfaction, social integration and absorption, and lower envy and depression. While gratitude is not one of the 8 Conditions, per se, an attitude of gratitude is part of a school environment characterized by Belonging, and in which teachers and students are Heroes to one another.

Consider how you model gratefulness for your students, and expect them to say "thank you" when appropriate.

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