Gratitude Journaling {Finding the Good Throughout the Entire Year}


Thankfulness. Gratitude. Kindness. It’s easy to see gratitude during the holiday seasons, but what about the other 9 months of the year? How do we teach and then practice gratitude for the rest of the year? Almost three years ago, during COVID times (I feel like this is in reference to another era now), I was struggling to find the good around me when everything had changed for everyone. Jobs, kids, sports, even grocery shopping for Pete’s sake were a contactless, nonsocial, anxiety-inducing event.

For me though, unlike so many others, my job (as an elementary teacher) didn’t truly change.


There was no “remote, work from home” option for me. I was required to mask up, shield up, maintain distance from my hybrid, one-day-on, one-day-off group of alternating students. It was bananas to say the least. One day, I stumbled across an article on gratitude journals. In other words, how to find a bit of good in every day.

I began a daily gratitude journal myself and somedays my little spiral bound notebook had simple things – my breakfast was good, one of my students came to school, I didn’t get sneezed on – and other days, my thoughts went much deeper. I found myself coming out of the COVID haze of each day a little less exhausted and negative. I smiled more and noticed other good things happening around me more often. So, I decided to start gratitude journaling with my students.

Each little journal was passed out and we began simply by writing three things. Three simple things that were good about your day, what you were looking forward to and how it made them feel. I never realized the impact it would have on my students, and me. Starting simple led to big discussions about feelings, praying for family members who were ill, supporting a student through a divorce and coming together as a classroom community – from 6 feet apart of course. It allowed my students a way to be close, without getting too close. It let them still see the good in the world around them and learn how to be a part of the good.

Three years later and I’m still gratitude journaling with my students.

Everyday we set aside 7 minutes. Our usually busy and somewhat noisy classroom morphs into a quiet reflective time that we all depend on to help process the events of the day. We’ve added analyzing a quote (gotta get those theme lessons in somehow!) and students are always welcome to share one of their three things. They’ve become reflective of themselves and considerate of their classmates since we’ve began. They understand when someone is having a hard day and often offer a helping hand or a kind word more easily. It helps to balance the scale a little bit when life isn’t always so sunny and positive.

Teaching them to look for the good and teaching them to show compassion and gratitude is the outcome of just trying to get by during a hard time. Some days I can’t believe the difference it’s made in my life as well. But the thing I’m most grateful for is how I know these students are going out into their world with a different, more generous mindset for any season they experience during life.


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