The Power of Gratitude in Schools

Posted on Sep 9, 2013 in Professional Blog

Thank you

Image by woodleywonderworks via flickr


In efforts to streamline communication, teachers may neglect the power of gratitude in our collegial correspondence. We try to avoid clogging each other’s inboxes with messages of thanks for work done/documents received.

I am keen to reduce the number of emails teachers attend to in a day. I recognise that many emails are repetitious & redundant. And I’m definitely on the hunt for better ways to disseminate organisational information.

However, I also believe that we must build a culture of gratitude in our schools. I believe that acknowledgement, appreciation and gratitude are key factors in any school where quality teachers are retained and student learning flourishes.


3 Reasons to Thank Your Colleagues:


1. Teaching is Hard and Teachers are Human

The day you dash off a quick – “I noticed your new bulletin board. What a great idea! Thanks for inspiring my next creative writing lesson.” – might be the same day that teacher deals with a critical email from a parent, an emotionally draining behavioural incident or an overwhelming pile of marking. Knowing that someone noticed and appreciated their work might make all the difference in their ability to face the next day. Mike Myatt reminds us that up to 70% of employees leave organisations because they do not feel valued by their boss. Does this figure translate directly to schools? Perhaps not. But teacher burn-out is a real and rapidly-growing problem. I believe that specific, genuine thank you messages can boost morale, increase retention and improve teacher wellbeing.

2. Teachers Are Only as Good as Their Teams

It is well documented that one of the greatest predictors of teacher efficacy is not training, experience or motivation – but school culture. When teachers feel connected, valued and needed by their team, the quality of their work improves. When they feel a sense of belonging and of working towards a common goal, their pedagogy is more effective and student outcomes improve. How do we create strong teams? One way is to recognise talent, acknowledge contributions, and say “thank you” for work shared. Obviously, this is not the only ingredient in an effective team. However, with recognition comes trust and confidence, which makes teachers more likely to take on responsibility, open up about professional needs and grow their skills, for the benefit of students.

3. Thanking Others Makes YOU Happier

Recent studies on well-being suggest that practicing gratitude is a key contributor to happiness. By thanking someone else, you will not only make their day, but improve your own, too! By developing habits of gratitude, psychologists claim that people can increase their genetic set-point of happiness over time. This has flow-on effects to your relationships, physical health and mental resilience. And in schools? Happy teachers are more likely to enjoy their work, embrace change and attempt innovative pedagogy. Happy teachers create safe, affirming environments for students. Happy teachers engage with parents in a positive manner. Happy teachers are a joy to have in the hallways.


To those who spent the 3 minutes reading this post:

Thank you for being part of my PLN. You make me a better educator every day.

Thank you for being a teacher. You are impacting lives and creating a brighter future.


And aren’t you glad I didn’t email this to you?

If we choose tools carefully, streamlined communication and gratitude can co-exist!

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