“People like getting thank you notes.” writes Heather Murphy. I read this article in July and immediately put it out to twitter. We really should be letting people know that their contributions, however big or small, are valuable and that we appreciate them.
I am a lover and coniscer of cards and note paper. I hoard them. I positively shake with excitement when I go into a card shop – and when let lose in Papyrus this summer, I came away with lots of cards in box packs ready to send out in the months of Aug and Sept to thank people all over the place.
I set myself the mission to write at least one thank you note a day for the first six weeks of school. I didn’t always achieve this, but if I missed a day, I made it up another day by writing more than one. I wanted to firstly acknowledge people that have had a positive impact on me. These are fellow colleagues, PE people afar, family and friends as well as students or athletes that I coach. I wanted them to know that I really valued them and to give them time to sit and read my words and hopefully let that sink in a bit.
I read some gratitude blogs and spaces and collected words and ideas. I wrote a list of people who have had a lot of impact on me or who have had a big impact on the PE community. I thought about myself as a learner in my relatively new school and listed those who have mentored me. I wrote down the friends and family who are always there to support me and make time for me and my family and have kept me sane through our move to China! And then I thought about my students who are consistently supportive and positive and who never expect anything in return. I bought some cards and some coloured pens. I wrote to people for their addresses and I got to work.
I am so very grateful for having made this experience. It was great closure to the end of each of my work days – to sit and write a thank you note summed up my day and allowed me to walk away from my office with a positive end to my day. I thought about that person or people and then in the next few days or weeks, I heard back from many people that they had received my cards and they appreciated the thought and words. It was like I have given a gift to myself twice – once in the writing and again in the knowledge that my card was received.
I want to thank those people who tweeted, emailed and sent me thank you notes in this process too. It was a profoundly wonderful way to begin my academic year.
Five minutes a day was not a huge time investment and as the research has found, “people tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others for a tiny investment of time.” (Dr Kumar quoted in Ms Murphy’s article). So – what are you waiting for?
For me, I did not write to as many students as I would like to and hope to do this and focus on students and faculty in November. The plan is to write to students 1 or 2 a day and thank them. I plan to use our school values as a guide for who to choose as well as our ‘Student as a Learner’ values. I plan to use postcard style cards that have our school logo on them. The other part is to have coffee with a colleague once a week. I plan to invite someone to coffee (and a walk around with our coffee) to chat with them and thank them but also to be more social and connect with people who I don’t get to see. The other incentive is to spend some time walking in my breaks and this will hopefully make the dark/cold of winter in Beijing that bit more sparkly.