Thursday, March 21, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

One of the teachers on my team is retiring as of April 1, so today was her appreciation party. As the English teacher, I had all of the students write notes of thanks which we placed in a nice little album. The kids did a really nice job-- their cards were genuinely sweet and poignant.

The activity made me remember an interview I'd heard on the radio several years ago. It was with John Kralik, a man who, in his early fifties was overworked and overweight and facing his second divorce and a faltering law practice. Unsure as to how he could even move forward, he took a solitary hike on New Years Day, and after getting lost in the mountains heard a voice tell him that until he appreciated what he had, he would never get what he wanted.

He also remembered his grandfather who gave his grandchildren silver dollars with the promise that if they wrote a thank-you note, he would give them another. His grandfather's lesson was that expressing thanks will pay off, sometimes literally. Considering all the obsolete stationery he had back at his soon-to-be-closed office, Kralik  decided to use it to write 365 thank-you notes, one a day for the next year. His book, 365 Thank Yous, chronicles how that year of appreciation changed his life.

At this point in the year, my students complete a series of writing challenges designed to encourage them to write and post their writing every day, or at least twice a week. As our first task, The Alphabiography Challenge, draws to a close, I plan to do a poetry challenge in April, for National Poetry month. But before then, we have Spring Break, and just enough time to do a mini-project.

And so, our Gratitude Challenge kicks off on March 27: it will consist of ten days of thank-you notes, at least 2 of which will be handwritten and mailed off. Today the students made lists of possible recipients, and it was gratifying to see how little trouble they had.


  1. I love this project, you will change lives. Thank you for looking for meaningful tasks for your students.

  2. Truly an awesome idea. Can't wait to hear how it goes.