October 18, 2017 at 11:43 AM #38142
How do you actively work to cultivate attitudes of gratitude and respect in the classroom?
October 18, 2017 at 11:00 PM #38168
Great question! It’s something I think about from time to time, although I’m not sure I have any solutions.
One thing I emphasize is talking in turn. Interrupting another during class discussion is not tolerated, and I try to give the person speaking my full attention. Even those who are prone to interrupt others seem to appreciate this when it’s their turn to speak, and I’ve seen improvement in this area in my classroom.
October 19, 2017 at 7:50 PM #38262
I used books and stories with younger students. Discussing the story would often help the students understand the character trait(s) and see the perspective of another child.
This year I’ve tried to be very specific in my verbal praise to the students when I see them treating others and school property with respect. Your question is one I have pondered many times this year.
October 20, 2017 at 11:36 PM #39122
Modeling is powerful.
Your students should frequently hear you expressing gratitude and demonstrating respect.
Little thank-you’s for routine acts of cooperation are cumulative and meaningful.
The teacher’s level of respect for authority or for “others” leaks out in comments and discussions about current events, historical happenings, government leaders, refugees, foreigners, etc.
October 21, 2017 at 4:05 PM #39124
It seems to me that an attitude of gratefulness and respect is an attitude that is better “caught” than “taught”. So we first of all check our attitudes as Jonas commented above. Are we showing the proper respect for those around us? Are we grateful and satisfied with what we have or are we always wanting the latest thing (whether it is a personal want or a teaching want). Maybe it is needful but maybe it would just be nice to have. Do we complain about our students and problems or do we embrace the challenges in our path? And are we honest with our attitudes? (One can have a false sense of respect and appreciation and not be willing to acknowledge and work on real problems also. This does not foster good attitudes in students.)
On a practical level, at the first grade age I do prompt and require thank you, good morning, I’m sorry, excuse me, don’t interrupt, etc. I’m also a believer of “less is more”. School is the place that students come to work. (It is their job; not a fun house.) Learning should be interesting and engaging but students should do their lessons for the sake of doing the job not because they are meeting the requirements for the next fun day. Rewards do have a place but they should be used sparingly.
Often (not always) people who experience genuine need are appreciative when their needs are met. We and our students seldom experience true need and we’ve become used to having things like we want. Calling attention to situations in other lands and times or in our own areas can prompt students to look beyond themselves.
October 22, 2017 at 2:44 PM #39128
Hilary B Martin
I love this question! Modeling is a wonderful concept but teaching must also take place; it’s not something that happens naturally. A lot of times we expect students to “just know,” forgetting that somewhere along the way I was once taught to say “please, thank you, excuse me, and pardon me.”
November 6, 2017 at 10:24 PM #39763
I’m not quite finished with this question. Indeed modeling is key. It reminds me of a valuable insight gained a number of years ago. For a few years I used the Character Sketches books as a basis for our class devotions, highlighting for several weeks at a time a specific character quality. After reading the animal stories, I would talk about the quality meaning, how it looks in our lives, and actively work toward having students implement it. After sending home reports of what we were studying and inviting parents to share stories of how they observed their child/ren demonstrate the quality at home, I would then read and post the little stories they sent to encourage students to recognize the quality in action and motivate them further. It was a positive endeavor and I did see significant growth. But especially one time stands out to me. I do not remember what the quality was that we were studying, but I remember feeling frustrated that the students really did not seem to get it — at least I saw NO progress in them trying to implement it in their lives. Then the Holy Spirit began speaking to me. I was focusing on THEM learning about it and had quite forgotten to pray about ME growing in the same. My focus switched. Sometime later I suddenly noticed students all over the classroom really improving in that specific quality. It amazed me and I saw in action the adage, “More is caught than taught”.
BUT! Modeling is not everything. I would still like to hear more practical stories from others. How can we actively teach respect, etc? For example when a teacher does something special for students, I think they ought to show the gratitude by saying thank you. Yet it is awkward when you are the one reminding them and it is you they ought to thank! How do you do that?
One thing I do to require respect is that whenever a child comes in from recess with a complaint, they must come talk to me quietly; they are not permitted to loudly report their grumbles in front of all the rest. Sometimes when they speak disrespectfully to others I ask them to try again, “Can you say that again in a respectful way?”
Here is something I regularly do to encourage students to develop positive qualities: I look for and record stories of how I saw them showing gratitude, or respect, or attentiveness, or diligence, etc. They love when I tell the stories, often recognizing the story because they saw it too. Each time they receive a small Precious Moments “certificate” (a simple photocopied small 3×5 black and white picture with caption) they save and at the end of the year they each have 10 – 15 of these stories. At our recent parent-teacher conferences I invited the students to set out on their desks anything they wished for their parents to see. Nearly everyone wanted their parents to see those certificates. It was an easy way to tell parents things I appreciate about their child.
Now, your turn.
November 11, 2017 at 9:07 PM #39970
Since I teach first grade, I don’t feel too badly about prompting them to remember their manners–it’s part of the training process. So I may ask them, “Are you forgetting something?” when a thank you is in order. As they grow older, though, it gets more awkward.
There are also times when I think it is okay to expect and require certain niceties from students. Saying good morning is one of them. Saying thank you to the door holder is another one.
I like your idea of telling stories about good qualities. Calling attention to desirable traits does two things. It recognizes the student who did the deed, while also giving an example for others to follow.
December 6, 2017 at 8:29 PM #41478
Not sure why I continue to think about this question except that it feels so important to me and I really want to grow in this area. I certainly agree with Carolyn’s comment of requiring students to practice the courtesy of a “Good morning” when they enter the classroom. That practice was really drilled into me the years I taught in Central America. Hearing that in public schools in Belize they actually sent a child home who dared enter the classroom without greeting the teacher set the stage for me to also give this common respect a high value! Since this discussion on the forum I have been more consciously aware of and intentionally asking myself how I cultivate respect in the classroom. I find that when I speak quietly and respectfully to them, it really is OK to (even publicly) ask a student who used a disrespectful tone to try again — “Could you say that again in a respectful tone?” When a child has been hurt by others (or at times by me), modeling compassion — “I am really sorry you felt disrespected. It matters how you feel” – helps build a safe atmosphere and in the process this translates into more respect for each other. I delight too in how it adds to a “we are on the same team” atmosphere.
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