grat·i·tude: ɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/ (noun): The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
So why gratitude? This simple practice can completely alter the way in which a minute, hour, day, week and school year goes.
Gratitude keeps a person present, it allows them to celebrate even the smallest of things in life on days that can seem troubling and terrible. Training my brain to be grateful for the things I have rather than focusing on the things I don’t, or even the things I wanted, has been a learning process. When I wasn’t practicing gratitude it was preventing me from stopping and soaking up the many blessings that make my life so rich. When I began using gratitude I focused more on the moments in order to be became tuned into the NOW.
As summer begins to wind down and many teachers head back to school I have heard many complaints or comments about how terrible going back to school is, I see it like this if you are not excited about teaching, then stop teaching. My advice, you have to first define what wealth or happiness is to you (money, clothes, time, friends, travel, helping others) and then go after that, chase the things that make your heart whole and make you want to spring out of bed every morning, and not think about when it will be time to go back to sleep. For me it is working with youth.
My classroom is only what I make it, if I am unhappy to be there then so will my students. The possibilities to create something magical are available to us every day! If you don’t like something change it, if you don’t like your school administration, but are thankful for the tiny human lives you are about to impact then focus on that. Look at the things you can do with this power of teaching. Ask yourself, what is your life work? It will put you in a powerful place and help unlock the potential of your students. Pay no mind to what others have to say, as humans can be naturally cynical of good things happening. Don’t be fearful or lack self-esteem. What is the benefit of that for either you or your students? Don’t play it safe. Do that crazy lesson you’ve always wanted to, take a leap. You will make some mistakes. Let me rephrase that we all will make plenty of mistakes. But only you have to be satisfied with what you’re producing for your students. You have great work to get done, so have an inner dialogue with yourself tonight, tomorrow, and the day after that. Tell yourself that yes you can make this year amazing, you can make anything you want happen. It is okay if you haven’t figured out how to yet. Continue to change the way you see yourself, take more workshops, and talk to more people who are doing what you want to be doing. Your mindset of the possibilities of what you can do limitless. What ideas are you sitting on that you haven’t maybe tried because you are fearful? Take the leap, if you get knocked down you will only be learning how to fight!
Don’t get stuck with putting yourself down, we never let our students do that, but yet we try to get away with it. Be present, mindful and connect with your soul because our hearts and our student’s hearts can sense good vibrations. A path of gratitude will lead you to something beautiful. You may think it is just another day, but it is not just another day. It is the one day that has been given to you. Today, it is a gift, it is the only gift you have right now and the only response we can possibly produce is gratefulness. Look at the faces of your students, each of them has an incredible story, a past, a future, and a story that may never fully be understood, but a story that you are now a part of… so make your chapter epic. Don’t see good or bad, see each day as the unique day it is, it will never come again. If all else failed and your day was a complete and total disaster you can still laugh and know that you spent your day well; that everyone you met on that day will be better just for your presence.