Sometimes, all it takes is a little unexpected token of appreciation to lift our spirits and brighten our day. I recently found a note from my daughter tucked into a notebook in my work bag. Ever the artist, she drew me a beautiful picture and added a brief note on the back. She knew that I might need a pick me up as I headed into the day. She was right. And it worked. And recently, to my wonderful surprise, a fellow coach I work with online sent me small tokens of appreciation through good old-fashioned snail mail that completely changed the course of my day and drove home the power that such a personal note of appreciation and thanks can hold.

What if we made it a habit to leave unexpected notes of appreciation to those that matter most to us? What if we took a few moments to remind them they are valued, are appreciated and that we care about them? While this is certainly essential in our personal life, it has the potential to transform our professional lives as well. Imagine how the teachers we work with would feel if we left them a simple, yet unexpected note of thanks or appreciation? Imagine how they might feel to receive a note ‘just because’? Every time I look at my saved notes from my family and colleagues, those feelings race back again and are long-lasting. What if we cultivated those same feelings of happiness in our schools and classrooms? I bet there would be a tangible shift in the energy in the building.

Here are a few ways I'm going to get a new Thank You practice started and you can, too:

Leave a card of thanks after working with a teacher. Thank her for her teaching, for his willingness to work with you to elevate instruction and for her dedication to her students. These can be quick messages written on sticky notes or actual cards dedicated to this very purpose. I've purchased these, these and these for exactly this reason.

Create notes of happiness for no reason at all. Simply thank teachers for all they do unexpectedly and write a positive affirmation for teachers to find and carry with them throughout the day.

Nestle surprises in unexpected places. Sneak a note of appreciation to a magazine in the teachers’ lounge, tape a smiley face to the back of a classroom door or write a backwards message to tape to the bathroom wall across from the mirror for an unexpected surprise.

And sure, go digital, too! Jenna Kutcher, one of my favorite podcasters, has a weekly practice of texting friends and family to simply say hello and let them know they are appreciated. And we can do this, too. Just as we might create a conferencing schedule with students, we can create a texting/emailing schedule for teachers and personally check-in to simply connect and let them know they are valued.

For me, the power of the note comes in the handwritten personalization of it. Knowing that someone took the time to personally recognize, thank or appreciate the work that I did is indescribable. I mattered that much for someone to take the time for. These small acts of appreciation appeal to our emotions and create a more connected community. As teachers reap the effects of your actions, they are certain to pay it forward to their colleagues and students to make their schools a better place to teach and learn together.

So, why not give teachers the time and space to start this thankful practice with you? One idea is to end your professional learning sessions with a bit of thanks. Invite teachers to think of three people they are currently thankful for in their professional life. Have them choose one of them and write a personal note of thanks. Be sure to provide thank you notes, cards and writing utensils for the occasion. Or, if they prefer, they can create a digital card instead using tools such as Evite or Zazzle. Encourage them to deliver the notes and ensure those that support us feel supported themselves. Doing this regularly supports a culture of thankfulness and gratitude. In fact, you might even create a basket filled with note-writing supplies in your coaching space for teachers to drop by and create a card whenever they would like to. And you can do the same.

Share your ideas to cultivate thankfulness and gratitude in your learning community below!


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