According to Merriam and Webster, Gracious means “marked by kindness and courtesy; graceful; marked by tact and delicacy; merciful, compassionate.”
Students learn to be gracious by watching others. I don’t believe that this is something people are born with but learn from others.
Teaching in a class where students have different or multiple disabilities, the students have faced ridicule and teasing for most of their life. It is hard for them to see graciousness in many people.
I start the year by making this a kind of treasure hunt. I have them actively looking for examples where people are kind, courteous, merciful, or compassionate. We talk about all of these behaviors and ways that people can exhibit them. The can’t find them if they don’t know what they are looking for. By having them look for specific examples, it makes the students more observant and receptive to behaviors other than ridicule and teasing. It helps them see that not everyone is like that.
At the end of the first week, I ask for specific examples that they have found. Each person that can share at least 1 situation, receives a reward. The next week they have to find 2 situations and the next week 3 and the last week 4. By then they are actively looking for this and it makes it easier. Then I switch to once a month to make sure they are still looking and observing.
I have found that since graciousness is such a positive behavior, the students don’t react so much to the negative behavior to them because they are so intent on looking for the positive behaviors in people. Sometimes they even ask their family and friends to help them identify this and that extends this activity to others.
I have also found that the more they look at these behaviors, the more they start trying to be gracious to others. I start seeing my students mentioning the behaviors of those closer to them. This improves the self concept of others because they start seeing that other recognize their actions.
Eventually this observing and acting gracious starts becoming a habit and the behavior in the classroom and outside of the classroom improves.
How do you teach students how to be gracious? Please share.