Are you counting down the days until the end of the school year? Many students probably are. Perhaps you had a tough year and you want some time off. Maybe you are looking to an exciting family vacation. Or it could be that you are sad to see the school year come to an end. Regardless of your perception and attitude about the coming transition into summer, getting closure on this year is important.
How will you end the year? Do you want to wrap it up in a nice package and put a bow on it? Do you want to give it a positive exclamation point that celebrates the ending of a meaningful year? Here’s an idea to consider. Display and teach the attitude of gratitude.
Brainstorm with your students. Create a list of people who have supported you during this school year along with their specific contributions. This would include:
Bus drivers who got us to and from school safely.
Crossing guards who helped us cross the street without incident.
Cooks who prepared and served our meals with a smile on their faces.
Coach Wilson, who pushed us to play a team defense with energy and commitment.
The school principal who greeted us every morning as we got off the bus and often reminded us of the safety norms.
Mrs. Gustafson, the custodian who kept the floors, restrooms and classrooms clean and shiny.
Our speech therapist who helped us use improve our clarity of speaking.
The choir director who taught us to sing and act with harmony and blend.
Mr. Gonzales who encouraged us to be in the band.
Our parents who helped us with study time and positive encouragement.
The school secretary who listened to our complaints and dispensed band aids.
The counselor who helped us decrease bullying and make new friends.
Teachers who taught, listened, cared, corrected, praised, encouraged, affirmed, and held us accountable for our choices.
Once that list is complete, give them an end of the year assignment.
1. Pick three people on the list. Write an expression of appreciation to the people you picked using the following format.
Thank you for ____________________________________
The result _______________________________________
How it affected you personally __________________________
Custodian: “Thank you for cleaning our school every night this year. Shiny floors and clean rooms helped me keep a shiny attitude. I appreciate it.”
Bus Driver: “Thank you for driving our bus this year. There were some snowy roads this year and you always got us there safely. I appreciate what you did for us.”
School Counselor: “Thank you for teaching me to handle my anger this year. I am better than I was. I got in less trouble because of it. Thanks.”
2. Hear some aloud. Give feedback and tweak as needed.
3. Assign students the task of delivering a note or saying their appreciation aloud within 24 hours.
4. Debrief the next day. Ask, “How did it go?” “What reactions did you get?” What surprised you?” “What generalizations can we make about verbal expressions of gratitude?”
End the activity by giving students a gratitude statement of your own. “Thank you for challenging me this year to come up with better explanations, more exciting activities, and greater appreciation for my chosen profession. You all have helped me move closer to becoming the teacher I really want to be. Thank you for that.”
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the coauthors of The Teacher Talk Advantage: Five Voices of Effective Teaching. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for the newsletters or learn more about the seminars they offer teachers and parents, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com
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