the gratitude project (2021).

This school year already looks different than last year. We’re vaccinated and boostered. We’re in person. We’re in full, non-cohorted classrooms. We can attend extracurricular events without having to play Rock-Paper-Scissors with family members to see who gets The Lanyard That Gets You Through the Gate.

We’re off to a pretty great start.

But we’re also in Year 3 of Pandemic Teaching and Learning, and it’s official: We’re exhausted. Teachers are scrambling to engage students who aren’t used to full-day, five-days-a-week school. Students are trying to relearn how to Do School after School Lite since March 2020. It is already a lot.

So, we’re all in need of a recalibration of sorts.

Enter the Gratitude Project.

I started assigning this a few years ago during Thanksgiving week. Essentially, I forced my students–and myself–to reflect on the Good in our lives in the midst of all of the bad. Outside of class, students explored several “books” from our interactive Gratitude Library (below.) (Hover over a title to do some “reading” of your own.)

In class, we were inspired by Kid President, we looked at an experiment that the Science of Happiness conducted, writing similar letters to the influential people in our own lives, and we saw how gratitude is being expressed in ongoing global projects such as the 365 Grateful Project and Thnx4. I shared my own musings, which I had written in the midst of aging parents–both of whom had battled cancer and defeated unrelated ICU stints that year alone. (Dad was actually hospitalized while we were working on the 2018 Gratitude Project and passed away weeks later.)

The result was a community slide deck where students expressed at least five things for which they’re thankful this year. The contributions range from lighthearted to heartfelt, but all reflect the diverse mix of Grateful Thinkers in Room 1227.

I shared my example with the students first (below).

Take a look below to see what these fabulous adolescents shared. (Click on the slide deck to advance through the slides.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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