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The beginning of an RCS school year serves as a rite of passage for every student and their classroom community. This time is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, a new beginning- a fresh start. RCS teachers begin by creating a sacred and safe foundation in which the students can explore their role as integral community members. Teachers strive to foster shared ritual and ceremony and aim to nurture a culture that embraces the spiritual virtues such as mutual respect, deep connection, appreciation and gratitude.

Daily centering practices aid the teacher in establishing this culture through themes that are inspired by the various spiritual virtues. For example, fourth graders begin their year by building Gratitude Jars. The purpose of this centering activity is to meditate on the power of gratitude and serve as a model for giving and receiving appreciations. These jars also serve as grounding resources to return to on days that are particularly hard or challenging and/or when a child may need to refocus on a positive energy. “The struggle ends when gratitude begins” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Our teachers are well aware of the many benefits of cultivating gratitude in their personal lives and in the lives of their students.

Click here for a great article on The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life. 

This activity is launched by an email to families requesting a personalized gratitude for their child. This can be as simple or complex as a family would like it to be. Once the gratitudes have been collected by the teacher, the students participate in a centering practice in which they create their jars.

The opening of this centering focuses on the power of gratitude and the sacred practice of slowing down and appreciating the special people and experiences in our lives.- maybe by reflecting on a quote about gratitude.

The teacher then explains that the jars will serve as year long collection vessels for various gratitudes and appreciations.The students are then guided to use tissue paper to personalize their jar (It works best if pieces of tissue paper are no bigger than a square inch and applied to the outside of the glass jar with the glue solution) and this introductory centering concludes as they jars are left to dry overnight.

The next day, during a follow up centering, students are again encouraged to meditate on the power of gratitude and are prompted to share in a partnership the following considerations…

Why might gratitude be considered contagious?
What type of energy does gratitude spread?
If gratitude were a color what color would it be and why? 

The students regroup and the teacher hands each child their jar (at this point the teacher has secretly placed the family written gratitudes inside each jar). The teacher sets the tone for exploring the jar and encourages the children to use it as a sacred time to personally digest the gift of gratitude from their family. This is not a time when sharing is necessary…instead encourage the students to place the notes back in the jar when finished reading them.

These jars are reintroduced throughout the year with notes from teachers and others students as deemed necessary and appropriate by the teacher.

How can what we do at RCS inspire your own personal or professional work? 

Consider these questions…
Why might gratitude be considered contagious?
What type of energy does gratitude spread?
If gratitude were a color what color would it be and why? 

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