Writing Letters of Gratitude

I have a small basket of letters I've received from former students, colleagues, and friends next to my desk. From time to time, I peek inside and reread some of these missives, which have been particularly meaningful to me.

Ruth wrote about gratitude yesterday.  Besides getting me thinking of all of the things I’m thankful for, it got me thinking about all of the people who we don’t thank enough in our lives.  I’m not talking about our parents (though we should thank them often!), but rather all of the people around schools who work tirelessly to make buildings run like well-oiled machines.  You know who I’m referring to…

  • The secretary in the general office

  • The security guard

  • The kitchen staff

  • The IEP meeting coordinator

  • The custodian

  • The IT specialist

  • The person who manages the supply closet, laminator, and other crucial things.

  • The school nurse

  • The classroom aide

  • The crossing guard

  • The person who handles dismissal and make sure every student gets on his/her bus at the end of the school day.

The list of people who help make schools a better place is long.  Consider taking some time out of one of these June afternoons to write and decorate letters of gratitude for all of the wonderful people who make your school a better place to be.

Brainstorm a list of people to thank with your students (your list may include administrators and other teachers).  Then, divide up the list of people to thank amongst your students and have them start writing.  (I always had students write first, so the substance was down on the page, before they decorated cards).  If time allows, consider hand-delivering the notes to each person.  If you don’t have time to deliver the notes, then make a class trip to the staff mailboxes in your school and have students carefully place their cards in each person’s mailbox.

While you can go online and find books that will inspire thank you notes, I highly suggest searching through your home to find thank you notes others have written to you.  Share those with your students.  It’ll be much more personal to share something someone has written to you since you’ll be able to articulate why the note was particularly meaningful.  Inviting students to bring in thank you notes which have they may have saved at home might serve as the best mentor texts for an activity like this.