Schools can teach gratitude in a way that’s more equitable and inclusive. Think back to your time growing up in school. Do you remember being surprised or apprehensive about differences between yourself and other students in terms of race, class, gender, age, ability, or popularity? Or perhaps you recall being intimidated about communicating with teachers, administrators and counselors? Such differences in social identity—which sometimes involve differences in social power—can make a young person feel different, stressed, and uncertain about their sense of belonging. Those are feelings that can present obstacles to learning, relationships, and well-being.
Today, more and more schools are using social-emotional learning (SEL) practices to help students navigate their differences, see their identities as assets, and build belonging and wellness. Gratitude is a particularly powerful practice because of how it can help nurture positive behaviors, relationships, and self-esteem.