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Incorporating Expressions of Gratitude into the School Day

Giving “Appreciations” to emphasize that gratitude for others is part of building healthy relationships


Appreciations provide opportunities for students and faculty to show gratitude for the actions of other community members. Students can show appreciation for each other and their mentors, and mentors are welcomed to share their appreciations for students and other mentors. Appreciations are a core part of Valor’s approach to relationship development. Recognizing what is working well in a relationship is often overlooked, and Appreciations provide a structured approach to create and maintain recognition.

Students meet at least once a week in a formal social-emotional learning practice called Circle, during which they are provided with the opportunity to share Appreciations. Each Appreciation must contain three components:

  • It must provide specific evidence or direct observation of the action.
  • It must identify impact, speaking to why this experience impacted the person.
  • It must end in a meaningful way. Examples of this include connecting the Appreciation back to the value of their relationship, relating it to personal values, or communicating a “thank you.”

Students receiving an Appreciation cannot give or receive one immediately after their Appreciation and are only allowed to respond with a “thank you.” This norm is intended to help prevent students from deflecting the praise and encourage them to fully absorb the message. All Appreciations end with some form of physical contact, such as a handshake or high five.

Appreciations provide meaningful insights that help build and maintain healthy relationships. Appreciations can occur in a one-to-one interaction but can also be received by multiple people. If multiple people are involved, the student or mentor sharing his/her Appreciation clearly states all of the people they would like to thank. While there is always time for Appreciations during the weekly Circle exercise, sometimes there may not be enough time to address all Appreciations. In this case, community members are welcomed to share Appreciations outside of Circle.

Strategy Resources

Appreciations in Action at Valor Collegiate Academies

Valor scholars regularly show appreciation to one another during Circle. Learn More