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An experienced elementary teacher asked her fourth-graders a question about gratitude and Habits of Mind. Learn what they had to say in these uncertain times.

November is a month of gratitude. We often express our thankfulness for people we love or the extraordinary things we have in our lives. 

I wondered, in addition to people and things, what else do we have to be thankful for here in our Waikiki school community? What if we stopped to reflect on the dispositions that make us the people we are? 

My fourth-grade students paused to contemplate and appreciate the Habits of Mind (HOM) that our school cultivates and how they help them navigate these uncertain times. Here is what I asked them: 

What Habits of Mind are you most thankful for?

Taking Responsible Risks

“​I am thankful for the habit risk taking because risk taking helps me to try my best and not to give up. Risk taking is so helpful when you think you can’t do something or, you feel like you want to give up because risk taking is all about not giving up and trying your best!”  Fourth-Grader Kona H. 

Listening with Understanding and  Empathy

“The mindful habit I like is LISTENING WITH EMPATHY. I like this mindful habit because it’s true, you do need to listen with empathy. For example: if someone is crying at school and you ask them what happened, you have to listen and really understand what happened instead of just thinking of what you’re going to say next. Like instead of listening with empathy you could be waiting for them to stop talking so you can talk about yourself. Instead, if you really care, then you should really listen.”  Fourth-Grader Kaili S. 

Continuous Learning

“The habit I am most thankful for? I am most thankful for remaining open to continuous learning. I chose that because I feel like learning is important and kindness is important. If you want to learn new things, you need to be open to continuous learning. Also I feel like if someone is taking their time to teach you something, you might as well be open to it. The thing the person is teaching you might be really valuable later. Lastly, learning can be fun, you just need to be open to it. These are the reasons why remaining open to continuous learning is the habit I [am]most thankful for.” Fourth-Grader Suriel W. 


“One reason why I like the mindful habit persistence is never giving up. When I craft, I use it all the time! I don’t want to just give up on something. I want to try, and try again until I make it perfect. The second reason is that it feels good to succeed. “If you want to finish something, finish it.” Even if there are problems. For example: I am making a house. But I am tired of hammering, measuring, gluing and much more. But I can’t just give up. The house is for someone to live so I just have to keep trying no matter what. 

The last and final reason is to accomplish something someone has never done before. Like the famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon! I know it took lots of persistence to accomplish it, but he made it! That is one example of persistence. By never giving up and being the first person to do it. Those are the reasons why I think my most thankful mindful habit is persistence.” Fourth-GraderJackie Y. 

Finding Humor

“I am most thankful for humor and joy. Humor and joy brings us together and helps us make new friends. Humor and joy helps us be kind and be happy when we’re sad. Humor and joy makes us all happy! That’s why I am grateful for humor and joy.”  Fourth-Grader Nola R.

Final Thoughts

 Despite the many challenges we face during these unprecedented times, I continue to find new blessings to count with each passing day. At the top of the list is being part of a school community that explicitly teaches and profoundly values the Habits of Mind. 

Our future is in the hands of these beautiful students who embrace the Habits of Mind and, for that, I am most grateful.  Even in these uncertain times, I am confident that the future they will build will be something to be forever thankful for.

Lory Peroff

Lory Walker Peroff is a fourth grade teacher at Waikiki Elementary School and a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow alumna who believes writing is not only enjoyable but essential. She lives in Honolulu with her husband, two energetic and curious daughters, five chickens, two ducks, and one peahen.