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Teaching gratitude and kindness using technology

October 1, 2019 - Posted in Education by Carla Jefferson
graphic image of words like "thank you", "gratitude", "appreciation" and more

From our Educator Guest Blogger Series

No doubt about it - being an educator can be extremely stressful.  Admin, students and parents, oh my!  Juggling the workload that comes from this work can be overwhelming. 

When consistently working in stressful situations, it is sometimes difficult to remember that despite the challenges we face - we have so many things to be thankful for.  The kid who gives you the biggest of hugs as they walk out the door.  The student who normally struggles in class but was spot on with their answer in small group.  The student who gives you “just a bit” of trouble on most days but decides that today will be the day that they come right in to get to work.  And coffee….we can always be grateful for coffee.

Sometimes it’s helpful for us to verbally communicate the ways we are thankful and it is certainly an activity that we could encourage our students to engage in all year.  The expectation for students to consistently use technology to demonstrate the 4Cs of 21st century learning (Collaborate, Communicate, Create, and Think Critically) is growing; and with the season of thanksgiving upon us, let’s talk about some ways that we can have our students use technology to teach and share gratitude. Showcasing gratitude in a digital format provides a way to create something that is lasting and can be shared with the outside world.

Digital Posting Spaces

So often, schools find themselves embroiled in cyberbullying investigations. What if we encouraged students to combat cyberbullying with kindness campaigns? How many of us have seen “Gratitude Walls” in learning spaces?  Turning that physical wall into a digital format would be so powerful!  What if teachers used resources like their learning management system (Schoology, Canvas, Google Classroom, etc) or digital spaces like SeeSaw and Padlet to create positive posting spaces. 

Blogging

Encouraging students to be grateful on a regular basis may take some initial encouragement and reminding.  In addition to formal and creative writing that students are expected to do, why not also encourage students to spend a few days a week blogging about what and who they are thankful for?  Set the example by joining them in the process.  You may find that it helps you to center yourself and keep your true purpose at the heart of what you do.  Edublogs is my favorite blogging resource.  Even if you are a beginner blogger, they have resources that can get you started right away!

Video Reflection

Flipgrid is an amazing tool that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating an online space for discussion. Why not use this resource to have students create thank you videos that highlight who and what they are appreciative of?  The great part about Flipgrid?  The videos all appear on a “grid” that can be shared and students can download the videos and share in their spaces.

Share, Share, Share!

Make sure your students’ families are aware of where they can go to join in on the conversation.  Share the work of your students (but be mindful of privacy issues), on social media.  Use the #BeKind hashtag to find other examples.

In this day and age where it is so easy to allow the negativity to overrule our spaces, we can use technology to create a new culture and climate for our students.  We can help to create environments that foster trust so that kindness is seen as a strength. We can help to build environments where collaboration, creativity, and excellence thrive.  We can create a culture that will transform and improve the communities in which we work and live.  Through kindness and technology - we can change the game!

Bio

Carla Jefferson (@mrsjeff2u) is an Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Darlington County School District.  A 22 year veteran educator, Carla has been a classroom teacher, curriculum facilitator, and school level administrator. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Certified Apple Learning Specialist,  Google Certified Educator/Trainer/Innovator, Remind Connected Educator and a member of the Remind Advisory Board.  Carla is a bonafide techie geek who loves to support educators and share innovate ways to integrate technology into the curriculum.  She currently serves as a member of the South Carolina ASCD Board, is the chairperson for the SCASA Instructional Technology Roundtable, and is on the leadership team of the ISTE Digital Equity PLN.

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