Beyond the turkey: reflecting on gratitude and tradition

When teachers and students think about Thanksgiving, two things probably come to mind first: time off from school and turkey. While those are wonderful aspects of the holiday, we encourage you to have your students reflect upon a different dynamic duo: gratitude and tradition. Along is here to give you and your students a space to think about and connect over what Thanksgiving is really all about. 

The importance of being grateful

According to a paper published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, practicing gratitude creates a positive ripple effect on your mind and body. Studies show that those who routinely list out what they’re thankful for are more likely to be physically healthy and less stressed. Studies also show that students who journal about their gratitude tend to be happier and have positive social interactions at school. The more students reflect on what they value, the more they model behaviors that express appreciation, such as regularly saying “thank you.”  

By checking in with Along, you create a safe space for your students to acknowledge what they’re thankful for without the pressure of telling the entire class. From meaningful relationships with their siblings to reaching a new level on a video game, encourage students to think about what they deeply appreciate regardless of how serious or humorous it is. Let them know that they can be thankful for parts of their life that go beyond the commonly-used “friends and family.”

Not sure where to start? The Along Content Library has many reflection questions to get the conversation going. Here are a few of our top picks:

  1. What is something, or who is someone, in your life that you’re grateful for?
  2. What is something that you really value? Why do you value it?
  3. What is something that you’ve recently felt thankful for?

Asking these questions will give your students a chance to recognize the good in their lives and focus on appreciating what they have. And if you’re looking for a classroom activity that promotes gratitude, you can have your students reflect on 3 good things for 10-15 minutes.

You get bonus points if you decide to share the benefits of practicing gratitude with your colleagues. A practice we recommend is to start staff meetings with a gratitude circle. Over time, this activity promotes unity, teamwork and job satisfaction within the group. (This practice works with students, too!)

Share your favorite traditions

Here at Along, our goal is to create opportunities for teachers to get to know each of their students in a more meaningful way. One way to connect with your students is by sharing traditions that are near and dear to your heart. You can even create your own reflection questions in Along that focus on anything from specific traditions, to unexpected Thanksgiving routines, to favorite meals, and to silly memories.

This is a great way to get students thinking about the holiday in a different way. You’ll set an example for your students, encouraging them to share the traditions that have helped shape their unique personalities. As students head into Thanksgiving, they’ll have a better appreciation for the cool and quirky bits that make their family special. And you’ll gain greater insight into your students’ lives outside of school.

Talking about traditions through Along is also an opportunity to get a pulse on how your students really feel as the holidays approach. While most of your students will likely be excited for festive family traditions, you may also have a few who need some positive words to help them get through the season. This is why checking in is so valuable. The holidays aren’t a one-size-fits-all experience — and it’s important for students and teachers to know and acknowledge that’s okay. 

From the entire Along team

Thank you for being part of our Along community. We appreciate you joining us in our journey to help teachers develop deeper connections with students. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with laughter, delicious food and loved ones.