As teachers, we sometimes forget that little, everyday actions in the classroom have a huge impact on our students’ lives. Just a small offering of appreciation can transform relationships and boost student self-worth. Simple tokens of gratitude, such as students voicing their appreciation for a fired teacher, can shift the climate of entire schools and strengthen the bonds among teachers, kids, and the community. But it’s not just about recognition — it’s also about supporting and inspiring others. Studies have shown that when someone gets appreciated, they feel more socially valued, and this can lead to prosocial behavior. In other words, when someone receives thanks, they are more likely to pay it forward. The more teachers express and practice gratitude, the more inclined students will be to do the same, leading to a more supportive and equitable world.
Check out these picks to help students develop a greater sense of self-worth and inspire a positive classroom culture.
This inspirational site focuses on the writing, sharing, and discussing of people’s core beliefs through short essays. Students can practice listening to or reading essays about what others have to say. After spending some time in the Gratitude section, students can then compose and publish their own self-reflective essay on the site. Guide students towards understanding that success often depends on not letting others force you to break your own core beliefs and values.
The DIY site gets kids “making.” Whether they’re harvesting honey, building a circuit, or creating their own film, kids complete challenges in various skill areas by posting their creations online and getting helpful feedback. Have students practice expressing thanks for any comments they receive, and further reciprocate kindness by commenting on others’ creations. Letting others know you’re grateful and demonstrating openness to receiving feedback can be integral factors in developing self-worth.
Students take online assessments to measure their strengths and challenges — like processing speed or verbal reasoning. Teachers can use Mindprint’s advice to discuss the results with each student, helping them appreciate the assets they’ve been given. With this assessment, kids can learn to self-advocate for their own success by making a plan to build on their strengths, while also addressing any weaknesses. Hopefully students will believe in themselves a little more, and be more willing to pick up new skills.
Seesaw’s digital portfolio allows students to submit a variety of work, such as videos, pictures, or drawings. They then can reflect on their learning through a voice recording. Have students practice describing their work to parents and teachers. Teachers can help students take pride in their achievements, and work with parents to send encouraging notes back to students. Through the tool, educators are able to facilitate communication that is supportive and builds student confidence.
This article’s content is an extension of the We All Teach SEL blog series from Common Sense Education. Check it out for a complete look at social and emotional learning in the classroom.