Sunday, January 10, 2016

Leading a Thankful Revolution

Thank You notes to Donors of WalkKits
A few years ago @coolcatteacher Vicki Davis, published a blog post titled,  Why Teachers Should Help Lead a Thankful Revolution.  Basically it was about helping children 'build thankfulness as a habit.'  This idea reminds me of Angela Maeirs' "You Matter" campaign.  Both of these inspired me to start a "Thankful Revolution" with my students.  But for some reason, it never really expanded beyond what I was already doing in my classroom. 

My students still carry on the tradition of sending hand-written thank you's to veterans for Veteran's Day and again during the Holidays.  The students have also mailed a note of thanks to a family member during Thanksgiving and then for gift during the the holidays.  Again, these are not new to to our class repertoire (and you can read about previous posts here: Veterans Thank Yous and Thank Yous with a Twist. ) We have expanded writing Thank Yous to donors who provide different resources to our classroom (like Donors Choose or from Donors of the Walking Classroom). While these ideas continue to be meaningful, in the back of my mind I keep thinking that I need to make the "Thankful Revolution" more of a daily ritual or habit.

In early December I attended a workshop on the Responsive Classroom. "Responsive Classroom is a research-based approach to teaching that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional skills. We believe that a high-quality education for every child is built on the foundation of a safe and joyful learning community." It is a hope that by incorporating some of the RC strategies, such as the Morning Meeting, we will begin the journey towards becoming more appreciative for one another with the idea of moving this beyond our classmates.

Each morning after the Pledge, (Yes We Still Say the Pledege of Allegiance), we go around the room, look a classmate in the eye, say their name and extend a pleasant greeting. The greeting is returned in the same way.  We end our day in this manner as well.  At first it was awkward with giggles and quick responses.  Now that we have been doing this for a couple weeks the students are more comfortable and giving better eye contact. This was a step toward extending simple courtesies to one another.

Thank You for the Gift!
Going forward we are going to broaden the "Thankful Revolution" to those times when a student shares his/her work.  After sharing or receiving feedback the students will 'thank one another' something like this:  "Thank you Katelyn for explaining your math ideas." "Your welcome, Jake."  Using a person's name is more powerful and sincere when saying thank you.

Other plans to Lead a Thankful Revolution in our Classroom will include:
  • Handwritten Notes: to a classmate or other school member for helping out in some way 
  • Acknowledge Absence: When a student is absent a classmate will welcome the student back.  (A student will also keep track papers making sure the absent student returns to a neat desk. The absent student will respond with a thank you!)
  • Public Praise:  Students will publicly thank a classmate or school member.  This could be done using a Pic Collage, a Sticky Note on Padlet (see below), a video,
  • Peer Applause: Time will be given once a week for students to give specific "Peer Applause" to a classmate for a job well done!  (We do this at every other staff meeting - it's nice to receive positive feedback from a peer for something.)
  • Small Token of Appreciation: Students will be encouraged to leave a small surprise for a classmate who has been especially kind to them: the gift could be a sticky note with a smiley face, a drawing, a homemade trinket (origami, bookmark, tissue flower, etc)

Once we have become comfortable and familiar with thanking a classmate, it is my hope to extend this beyond the walls of our classroom and our school.

Please share your ideas in the comments below on how the idea of a "Thankful Revolution" can be expanded!