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Building A Teacher Mindset: Gratitude

What would the perfect teacher mindset look like? If you could build a teacher from scratch, what should be included? This blog series will examine & dive deeply into the mindset that brings the most success and joy into the life of a teacher. Today’s mindset element is gratitude!

Gratitude is a difficult topic to navigate in education. It is incredibly challenging to tell a teacher to be grateful in today’s educational landscape. The response usually sounds like, “How can I be grateful when…What comes after that is a who’s who of systematic issues, terrible policies, and horror stories from the classroom.

On the other end of the conversation, gratitude has shown time and time to increase happiness, satisfaction, self-efficacy, and a number of positive traits and characteristics.

There is no downside to gratitude, but it is a challenging feeling to embrace and seek out in the midst of today’s education system.

Gratitude for Self

If someone were to ask you who you are grateful for, you might think about friends, family, co-workers, or another group of people who have influenced you in a positive way. When you do that, you are thinking of the action of gratefulness.

We don’t often think about the root of gratefulness, however. We have a need to show thanks, deliver heartfelt compliments, and speak meaningful love into others. Performing on that need actually helps our mindset and emotional state much more than it does the person who is receiving the kind words.

To see more of the science of gratitude, here’s one of my favorite videos on it.

A grateful disposition is not something that you must put on for someone else. It is for YOU! The feeling of gratitude is vital to your happiness and wellbeing. Refusing to show it will give you an empty, unfilled emotional state regardless of what is happening around you.

Thanks in an Unthankful environment

So how do we apply gratitude to the perfect teacher mindset? We know that it is a helpful emotion and one that will impact us in a positive way, and we also understand that it is difficult to do on a daily basis. Here’s how we can apply it:

  • Make an active choice – You know that the grateful feeling won’t just magically come during your teaching day. You must choose to feel it.
  • Show it – If it’s not visible to others, it certainly won’t be visible to you. Give gratitude in every class period, at the start and end of every day, and to your loved ones when you return home or communicate with them.
  • Be specific – Your grateful messages will bounce off of people if they are not detailed. Don’t just tell people things like, “I’m glad you’re here today,” “I’m thankful for you,” or “You’re a great person/student/admin/coworker/etc.” The power is in the details. When you can articulate why, your own feelings of gratitude will skyrocket, as will their reception of it.
  • Realize that it doesn’t invalidate your negative thoughts – You can be grateful and also hate things about your job. Gratitude is not a toxic positivity trait. It’s just fuel for the feelings that propel you forward. In fact, a consistent grateful demeanor will better position you to be an advocate for needed changes with elements of your work life that are stressful.
  • Receive it – If you give gratitude often and to everyone, be ready to receive it back. One thing that many teachers are guilty of is not being able to take a compliment. We stay humble, but then we also get trampled quite often. Allow yourself to receive compliments with kindness. Model both the giving and receiving portions of gratitude so that your school culture can mimic your healthy expression of gratefulness.

I’m thankful for everyone who reads this. I hope it was a helpful beginning to our look at teacher mindsets. Make sure you follow our blog for weekly updates! For bonus points, share this blog post to your favorite social media platform, tag a teacher friend, and tell them why you are grateful for them. It’s never too early to start practicing!

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