Whatever Happened to Gratitude?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m a teacher and I dread going back to work in the fall. The reason is ingratitude. I don’t feel recognized, appreciated, or cared about by my students or their parents.

The lack of gratitude from others is devastating. Simple little gestures such as “thank you,” “could you please,” “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” or “no, thank you” have disappeared.

This past school year, I had to schedule several parent-teacher discussions, because the self-absorbed and self-righteous parents were so demanding.

They don’t see me as a real person, who’s beating her head against walls, trying to instill values into their entitled children. They take no responsibility for teaching values … especially gratitude.

I’m grateful for the couple of girls that gave me notes of appreciation “for all that you do.” Honestly, though, I feel like it was to pacify me and an obligation, rather than a sincere note of real gratitude.

Unappreciated teacher

Dear Teacher,

Having had the opportunity to speak in many schools, including juvenile detention schools, we have long noticed a decline in gratitude.

Gratitude is an emotion, a response to an act or gift (tangible or not). It comes from someone who exhibits generosity and graciousness.

Since gratitude is a feeling or emotion that we enjoy, it’s something of great value. It is how the goodness of others makes us feel.

As Carl W. Buehner said, “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

We recognize how much most teachers give, often at the expense of many sacrifices that they make.

It’s only natural that you would love to receive acknowledgment, praise, responsiveness, and thankfulness.

However, we are sure that the best way your students will learn gratitude, is for you to be the exemplar of the excellent attitude that precedes the feelings of gratitude.

Of course, we aren’t asking you to pretend a feeling that you don’t have yet. It takes conscious practice. Yes, gaining an attitude requires specific actions, such as a journal of gratitude, with specific accounts of the positive qualities your students possess.

You may notice Susie’s sitting quietly and attentively while others are creating chaos, or Johnny’s helping someone pick up their books that got knocked down.

Share these small, yet important, actions that make you feel good and before you know it, your students will catch the contagious good feelings of gratitude. Have your students share from their own gratitude journals, every day.

If other teachers and parents “catch” gratitude, you’ll see only the goodness of your community and the value of gratitude will spread.

We’re thankful for your generous care.


Rhonda and Dr. Cheri