Monthly Mentor

Jen Holsinger-Raybourn (December)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Jen Holsinger-Raybourn, now in her 16th year in arts education, began her career in Museum Education and has taught K-12 Visual Arts in both private and public schools. Jen serves as a mentor to the 2019 NAEA School for Art Leaders as well as the Elementary Division Chair for the Texas Art Education Association. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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« Know Your Worth | Main

December 02, 2019

Keeping the Gratitude Going

By Jen Holsinger-Raybourn   

Amidst a season of giving; gifts, your time, creating, and capturing moments it is important to continue to take the time to reflect on why these gestures are significant. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can improve overall happiness, sleep, focus, and so much more.  In an experiment for NAEA’s School for Art Leaders a few years ago I started investigating self care, including a gratitude practice. 

Prac·tice /ˈpraktəs/  verb
perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one's proficiency (Ex "I need to practice my French")

I strive to maintain a gratitude practice because I have learned that it helps keep me more present in my day to day life in and out of my classroom.  As teachers we encourage our students to practice for improvement, to adopt an attitude of practice makes progress. This philosophy allows us to continue to grow without the pressure of perfection, which we all know is unattainable, looming overhead.  Over time I have found a few different ways to practice gratitude that work for me. These exercises can be accomplished in a minute or two or you can dig deeper if time permits.

  • Gratitude List - take a few minutes to jot down ten things you are grateful for, not enough time for ten try five, three or even the one. I like to place this list in a place where I will see it throughout the day.

  • Gratitude Journaling - sit down with your journal, set an alarm if time is short and write freely about things you are thankful for, I think you will be surprised how quickly the time passes and the page fills.

  • Meditative Gratitude - center your practice on the thing you would most like to give thanks for today.

  • Express Your Gratitude - could be to a stranger on the street who opened the door for you, a colleague, or a loved one. Take a moment to let them know why you are grateful for them, try to be specific. It could be a quick talk in person, text message, a phone call or you could scribble a quick note or artwork placed where they will see it or pop it in the mail.


I challenge you today to try one of the gratitude practices listed above and think about how it made you feel, how it helped you interact with your community, build relationships or how it helped you be a better teacher or leader today.

Thank you for spending a few minutes reflecting and growing your teaching practice, until next time.

- J.H.R

To go deeper, check out this podcast from The Creativity Department about how to infuse the idea of Gratitude in the classroom as well as personally.

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