Gratitude Graffiti: Part 2

In the second part of the series about Gratitude Graffiti , one of the project leaders describes her experiences of "looking for the good."

By Vanessa Merritt

Years ago, a friend, colleague and exceptional educator, described a daily ritual that took place in her classroom during “Carpet Time.”  For a few special moments, she had her students  “look for the good.”  At the time, I filed this rich sounding experience in the back of my mind.  With my own children, I have periodically borrowed the phrase.  I have pulled it out in an effort to have them find a solution, or to promote empathy in lieu of critical judgment.  For a long time, I kept “look for the good” filed in my repertoire for teachable moments - to be pulled out when the situation seemed just right.

Now, years later, “looking for the good” has a new context.  The context is “PRACTICING GRATITUDE .”  I now realize this was exactly what my friend, (the exceptional educator), was fostering in her classroom all along! 

My ah-ha moment came through working on the Gratitude Graffiti Project.  The Gratitude Graffiti Project promotes practicing gratitude - an accessible “tool” that can be used to create a healthy habit linked to emotional health.  Lucila McElroy, co-founder of the Gratitude Graffiti Project, invited me to work on the project wearing my "educator’s hat."  I happily obliged, and set to work developing a resource package for teachers.  While compiling “read-aloud” book lists, writing lesson plans for creative activities, and facilitating in classrooms, I noticed the practice of gratitude targets Prescribed Leaning Outcomes set out in the Health section of the BC Curriculum.  I was impressed with how the practice of gratitude can so easily be integrated across the curriculum.  Most remarkably, it became clear that a regular practice of gratitude can be powerful! 

I am heartened by how practicing gratitude can benefit an individual’s wellbeing, and consequently have a positive effect on classroom culture.  It is inspiring to see how, through the project, schools weave gratitude into the fabric of their communities, and thereby, foster the development of an important life skill among their learners. 

On a personal level, “look for the good,” once, a rich sounding experience has evolved into a way to experience life richly.  I am grateful.

Ever since teaching her first class of Kindergarteners, Vanessa Merritt has been focused on fostering the social and emotional development of children.  As a parent of three, an educator with 21 years of experience, and a consultant and facilitator for the Gratitude Graffiti Project, she is passionate about promoting social and emotional development through creativity.

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