Thursday, November 20, 2008
A Habit of Gratitude
I have been thinking about rituals; about their power and import. I've also been thinking about gratitude. And so. I want to tell you about a classroom ritual I have created.
I believe that your first actions set the tone for the entire day. If I am right, then we must be intentional with each new morning we're given. In Lawsonland we begin our day with a song, a bit of physical affection, a kind word, and time to ponder and reflect. Not a bad way to start the day, is it? Here's how we do it:
Every morning I greet my second graders at the door with a hug and a song. I mean it. I stand in the hall by our door, sing the "Good Morning Song", look each child in the eye, and hug him or her. Believe it or not, I don't even feel silly when other adults pass by. We all have the morning routine down pat. My second graders pile in the door like puppies, chattering among themselves as they unpack, make their lunch choices, and get out their Brain Book. It gets quiet pretty quickly, though, because I always have a writing prompt on the board. The students read it, take a moment to think about it, then they write.
How great is that?
Each day this week my students have written a list of ten things for which they are grateful. Every morning brings a new list. No repeats. I make a list, too. Every morning. Before we head to morning meeting, we take turns calling out items so I can create a class list, which stays on the board all day long. Sometimes I find other thoughts squeezed in between the lines, written with a suspiciously wobbly hand. It's as though some student just could not keep their thanks to themselves.
Today I asked my class to focus their list on small things. Things they may never have thought to be thankful for. Things like Chapstick, zippers, and character band-aids. Here's a peek at today's class list: "my stripey toe socks, friends who share gloves, pencils that just got sharpened, the lotion you brought for us to use whenever we want to, playing chase, Tootsie Pops, squashy pillows, no indoor recess, chicken patty day, firetrucks - the red ones, not the green ones..."
They get it. Oh, they get it. Please, God, let them keep it.
An attitude of gratitude. That's what I am trying to teach. Mindfulness. A full and thankful heart. An awareness of our blessings. I spend my days trying to light fires that will burn their entire lives. Gratefulness. What better habit could I teach?
Like most people, my thoughts turn to gratitude at this time of year. Every day for the next ten days, I plan to post about gratitude. I hope you'll join me.
Gratitude tattoo by Fancy Hunt. Tootsie Pops by ktpupp. Sharpened pencils by cyoachim. Stripey socks by luna.nik.
In case you want more...
Poem Hunger Favorite Things I Love Lists Personal Passions 52 Lists Slice of Life Lawsonland Being Momma Bookish Thoughts A Habit of Gratitude Just Me Guest Blogger Just Thinking NaBloPoMo August Break Family Stories Something for You This moment Team Lawson The Good Life Christmas Cup of Blessings I Love America Alphabetica Jeffrey My Love Precious Ordinary SOOJ AprilLove Intention Why Don't You Inspiration Opinions Please Quotes unphotographable The BIG List Art San Francisco I love Presents Monthly Mosaic The Art of Silly December Reflections Travel Book of the Week Fiction