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Edutopia: Gratitude Can Fuel School Transformation

Gratitude makes life a positive, fulfilling, heart-warming experience… Build it into your day – before you go to bed, sitting at a traffic lite, as you go in to work or leave at the end of the day, and thank your colleagues and boss OFTEN.  Appreciation and gratitude build happy bonds between you and make BOTH of you feel exhilarated and happier!

Edutopia:  TEACHER LEADERSHIP  —  Elena Aguilar     Transformational Leadership Coach from Oakland, California

The Neuroscience Behind Appreciation

Here’s the thing: Our brains need to feel gratitude in order for us to want to be at work. Our brains are like Teflon for positive experiences and like Velcro with negative experiences. This means the negative comments, interactions, professional development (PD) workshops, and so on, cling to our brains. But if we spend a few minutes in appreciation, recalling those fulfilling moments in a day or encounters with supportive parents, or the segments in workshops when we felt we were learning, our brains create new links between neurons.

As we strengthen these links and build them day-after-day, our mind finds it easier to travel down those neuron paths and to experience the associated positive emotions. We can help our brain evolve in a positive way and in a way that might help us transform schools.

If we feel more positive, we will want to be at work. We will most likely be more patient with our students and with colleagues. We may speak to each other with more kindness. We might listen to each other more deeply. We might take risks in our teaching or leadership. But we can’t do any of these when we’re perpetually distressed. Expressing gratitude can allow us to engage in teaching and learning in a more positive, open way.

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