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Check out Owen's new book, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching

Saturday, April 18, 2020

My eCourse is now free-This is a great way to stay Grateful through COVID19

Gratefulness.org is now offering my five-session eCourse for free for everyone. This is a perfect way to keep energized through this time of COVID19 and interject some gratitude into your life and the lives of those around you!

This eCourse will include practical, research-based activities and a new gratitude curriculum shared by educator and author, Owen Griffith. Owen’s book, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, will offer structure to help guide the course as we create opportunities for educators to explore gratitude as a way to improve class culture; academic and social success for students; and resilience and satisfaction in students and educators alike. These are tense and challenging times with COVID19 affecting us all in new ways daily! The safety of our kids and ourselves is imperative and having tools that uplifts and strengthens what is going right is essential. Gratitude has a role to play in building resilience and reducing stress, especially during these extremely challenges times. So, join our class and take action now to improve your life. Here is the link, eCourse and comments.


Gratitude: A Way of Teaching should be required reading for teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone else who has a stake in our children’s future. You will be challenged, edified, and stirred to take a fresh look at this timeless virtue and see why we owe our children the gift of gratitude.

~ Robert A. Emmons, Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Positive Psychology; author of Gratitude Works! and Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

In a time of tests, accountability, and burnout, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching beautifully encourages teachers and students to connect to their own and each other’s humanity by stopping for a moment and asking, “What is wonderful about life?”

Vicki Zakrzewski, PhD, Education Director, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

In Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, Owen M. Griffith does a superb job at giving teachers practical strategies for making their students grateful. Following these strategies, and with patience and persistence, we can significantly influence the children in our own personal worlds. And, if we do, that will influence programs, clubs, schools, and other institutions in the community, too….Our society needs this more than ever. 

Jeffrey J. Froh, Associate Professor, Hoffstra University and co-author of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character

In a very practical way, Owen M. Griffith shows us how gratitude can be incorporated into the schools. Filled with inspiring examples and many practical suggestions, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching can be used to improve the gratitude of students in your classroom, and perhaps more importantly, it should help teachers generate a more grateful attitude toward their students.


Philip Watkins, Professor of Psychology, Eastern Washington University

Monday, February 3, 2020

Gratitude Can Rewire Your Brain.


I am so excited, I found a compelling and powerful article about how "Gratitude Can Rewire Your Brain." So, please read it when you get a chance and keep practicing gratitude and reaping the benefits!

https://fee.org/articles/how-gratitude-can-rewire-your-brain-for-happiness-and-success/

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Gratitude Poem by Kurt Vonnegut


I found this poem today and love it. This was one of the last things Kurt Vonnegut wrote and it is powerful. Enjoy and share!
Joe Heller
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel

to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!”
— Kurt Vonnegut
The New Yorker, May 16th, 2005


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Powerful videos to help children




Here is a link to some fantastic videos from the Greater Good Science Center on helping kids in a number of important areas, like feeling loved, being honest and feeling compassion:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/video

Thursday, August 15, 2019

This will be a short post today because I know this is the busy time of year. This post goes out to all the truly amazing teachers who are back in the classroom or will be soon. Right now, at my current job at WGU, I have the pleasure of helping about 100 college students become teachers. Today, I found a great article on "How to Fall In Love with Teaching Again" and wanted to share it. Thanks to all the inspirational educators out there who are helping reshape the future of our planet!


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Gratefulness.org is offering my five-session eCourse for educators on-demand now. A perfect way to keep energized through the school year and interject some gratitude into your life!

This eCourse will include practical, research-based activities and a new gratitude curriculum shared by educator and author, Owen Griffith. Owen’s book, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, will offer structure to help guide the course as we create opportunities for educators to explore gratitude as a way to improve class culture; academic and social success for students; and resilience and satisfaction in students and educators alike. These are tense and challenging times. The safety of our kids and a classroom culture that uplifts and strengthens what is going right is essential. Gratitude has a role to play in building resilience and reducing stress.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Guest Blog by Aaryn Birchell-"It's a Trick, but a Treat!"

It's a Trick, but a Treat!
By: Aaryn Birchell

My Grandma Snow had a non-negotiable Halloween tradition. If you wanted a treat, you had to do a trick.  Whether it was playing a song on her piano, or reciting a poem, or doing a handstand, we prepared a trick before we knocked on her door. Though I would start off feeling pretty silly playing a piano song in my butterfly costume, Grandma’s clapping and, “Thank you for your performance!” made me feel pretty good, even better than the treat of a honey-sweet popcorn ball.

Years later I was sitting in my classroom wondering what to do.   Though I started every day with a burst of positive energy and taught my students with unending excitement for literature and communication, my students resented my rigor.  I cut down the amount of essays and novels from the previous teacher, but they complained about every step of the process.
I had a culture problem in my Sophomore English class.
“We really like you as a person . . .we just really hate your class.”
Ouch.
Some students approached the class with a great attitude, but the majority’s destructive complaining  affected my students’ learning and emotional health.
How does one force teenagers to have a good attitude?
That’s the trick.

My summer focused on looking for ways to influence my classroom culture.  But giving my students every part of me had me feeling pretty burned out. The thought of doing More and MORE felt overwhelming. Hence my criteria
  1. Effective
  2. Cheap
  3. Simple
Quite the Trick indeed.

Enter Gratitude! I read how gratitude opens learning and floods the brain with positive hormones that actually help students learn more.  It promotes better sleep, better relationships, better overall health.
Effective? Check!
Cheap? Check!
Simple? . . . .Hmmm. I imagined the first day of school telling a bunch of teeagers, “Just be grateful!”  and watch their jaded and resentful eyes narrow in.

However, deep down, my students needed gratitude. I needed it too.
Fast forward a few months and I had my “simple to implement” method figured out. To avoid a logistical nightmare, “The Gratitude Tracker” is a simple grid sheet with five columns for the school days in a week and three rows for the weeks. Each box is numbered
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
A glance revealed my students’ gratitude.  I kept the criteria simple. As long as there were five words written down each day, (It could even be the same 5 words every day) they got the participation points. I also warned them that they could not just fill in a bunch in one day.  The benefit was from the daily practice.
Some kids thought it was dumb.  No worries. “This is a simple thing that will get you points that will improve your grade.” Avoiding the “Just be grateful” trap, I taught them how this practice will help their brains learn more in class with less effort and longer retention. It was all about learning.

Soon this little trick became a treat.  Students started talking about what they were going to write down as they shared their gratitude observations with others.  Some students self selected to write down something different each day. Other students started looking for things to write down in the gratitude tracker as they went throughout the day. My daughter when she was in my class loved cold cereal and tried to come up with as many different types of cold cereals that she could find just to see how long she could go.
The method didn’t matter.
Kids were practicing the powerful behavior of gratitude.

Most importantly, our classroom culture changed. Same teacher using the same stories and poems, but the overall attitude of the class about the learning improved!  Now I will never say that ALL students loved EVERY day in my classroom. I still have students who occasionally resent the rigor, but enrollment in the advanced classes went from two sections offered at my school to needing five sections. Yes, the class is challenging, but so many former student said it was really worth it.
And the treat?
Increased learning.
Better emotional health and attitude about learning.
More thank you notes at the end of the year than I had ever received before.  

Grandma knew what she was doing those many years ago. If you want a treat, you have to do a little trick.

Aaryn Birchell’s Bio:
Draped on the wall in lace and burlap a sign in Mrs. Aaryn Birchell’s classroom asks, “Does your Grit have Gratitude?” Modeling this mindset with eager eyes, endless energy and a “You-can-do-it!” attitude, she champions and celebrates students. As the 2018 Utah Teacher of the Year, Aaryn continues that advocacy for students statewide to help address the teacher shortage while supporting a citizen initiative that would bring additional funding to education.
Aaryn honed her teaching skills after earning her degree by volunteering at the Utah State University Writing Center and working as a substitute teacher for twelve years. When a part-time position teaching advanced sophomore English classes opened at her alma mater, Uintah High, she jumped at the chance to teach emerging adults the beauty of life through world literature. Now teaching full time, she has additional responsibility and joy teaching AP Literature.
In school, Aaryn advocates by listening to overwhelmed teens and arranging over eighteen service projects for Honor Society; by coordinating a scholarship writing workshop and teaching ACT prep classes; by decorating for Prom late into the night and co-writing the annual Senior Poem.
In her community, she serves as a board member of the Uintah Literacy Commission and as former director of the Vernal Storytelling Festival, constantly looking for opportunities to connect a well-lived life to literacy.
In her professional affiliations, her service on the local and state Education Agencies demonstrates the grit needed to advocate for the teaching profession also enriches the lives of her students and her own family.
In her home, she shares her deep gratitude for the joy that teaching brings with her husband Garn and their four kids, often nestling them under a tree in the Uintah Basin she calls home.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

eCourse-Gratitude-A Way of Teaching is now On-Demand

Check out my new On-Demand eCourse 
Gratitude-A Way of Teaching

Here are a few recommendations from the book, Gratitude-A Way of Teaching, that goes with this eCourse:
“Gratitude: A Way of Teaching should be required reading for teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone else who has a stake in our children’s future. You will be challenged, edified, and stirred to take a fresh look at this timeless virtue and see why we owe our children the gift of gratitude.
~ Robert A. Emmons, Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Positive Psychology; author of Gratitude Works! and Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
In a time of tests, accountability, and burnout, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching beautifully encourages teachers and students to connect to their own and each other’s humanity by stopping for a moment and asking, “What is wonderful about life?”
Vicki Zakrzewski, PhD, Education Director, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
In Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, Owen M. Griffith does a superb job at giving teachers practical strategies for making their students grateful. Following these strategies, and with patience and persistence, we can significantly influence the children in our own personal worlds. And, if we do, that will influence programs, clubs, schools, and other institutions in the community, too….Our society needs this more than ever. 
Jeffrey J. Froh, Associate Professor, Hoffstra University and co-author of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character
In a very practical way, Owen M. Griffith shows us how gratitude can be incorporated into the schools. Filled with inspiring examples and many practical suggestions, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching can be used to improve the gratitude of students in your classroom, and perhaps more importantly, it should help teachers generate a more grateful attitude toward their students.
Philip Watkins, Professor of Psychology, Eastern Washington University

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Blog-Confession of an Author



A couple years ago, I wrote a book, and if you are reading my blog, you can see it at the top of the page. Writing that book felt like climbing Mt. Everest, but I am glad I did it, and I am still hearing how it is helping teachers. Recently, a colleague in training in Utah told me that she heard a speaker, the Utah State Teacher of the Year, say that reading my book helped her, and that implementing a gratitude list with her students transformed her high school English class.

But, just when I thought I had made this big accomplishment, life reminded me to stay humble (which leads to more gratitude for me). Here are a couple little anecdotes that I found amusing.
The local library purchased my book and put it in their collection. I took my son, who was 7 at the time, to the library and walked down the aisle and asked, “What would you think if Daddy’s book was in this library?” I wanted to surprise him. His eyes lit up and he said, “Really Daddy-that would be so cool.” So, I found my book, pulled it out and showed it to him. He looked at it and said, “You get the award for having the most boring book in this library. Next time, don’t write about gratitude, write about Super-Heroes.” I laughed so hard! I did show him that his name was in the dedication in the book, and finally he was impressed. In hindsight, I should have told him, “My book is about Super-Heroes; it’s about teachers.” Nothing could be truer.

Recently, they featured local authors at the library (I go to my local library too much). I was walking past the display and saw a woman pick up my book and leaf through it. I had to smile and hold back the urge to say, “That is my book, do you know how much work I put into it?” But, I just walked by and let her peruse it. I have to admit that I was disappointed when I saw her put it back and move on to another book. I should have stopped and talked to her.

Finally, I ran across a gentleman last week who had come to one of my talks and brought a book a couple years ago. He came up to me with a smile and said, “I bought one of you books a couple years ago… Can I have my money back?” I had to laugh, but it all ended in a positive way. He had brought it for a friend who was a teacher, and she was gone. However, he ended up deciding to donate my book to a local school. So, whatever comes your way, keep everything in perspective, and take it with a large dose of gratitude.