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Sharing Gifts among Students

Sharing Gifts among Students

12 August, 2016

Who is the teacher that you remember most in your life? Chances are that she or he saw something special in you and motivated you to develop that gift and share it.

Every adult who can help kids not only to identify their gifts, but also to share them, is planting powerful time-release seeds for their future.

For students, the act of sharing their unique gift is vital in many ways:

  1. It helps them expand on areas in which they are intrinsically strong, which gives a big boost to motivation.
  2. It can link them with new people in their school or community through service learning. A child is never too young to instill the value of pro-social behavior.
  3. It deepens a sense of meaning and purpose for the individual. Children see that they are capable of “being the change.” What they are sharing makes a difference — they matter. What if every child knew that at a young age?

Your Authentic Self

Another vital aspect of sharing one’s gift is engagement. While expressing their authentic selves, students make meaningful connections and help others in the process. Win-win-win!

But let’s make a distinction. This is not about simple community service, like collecting cans of food for homeless families during the holidays, although that is critically necessary in its own right. This is slightly different. When students are challenged to solve a problem they find relevant, and when they are motivated to do so creatively, this opens new possibilities. This is about kids tapping into their talents and passions and having permission to express that part of themselves in a way that:

  • Builds on their strengths
  • Motivates initiative and critical thinking
  • Helps develop resilience
  • Promotes cooperation and respect for others
  • Celebrates creative approaches to problem solving
  • Has personal relevance to their own lives

When students are sharing their gifts, they are in the flow. This is project-based learning at its best! One great tool to help determine individual strengths is Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Try to inspire students to use their unique intelligences to benefit others — even small, altruistic acts can have big ripple effects.

Helping Others Makes You Happy

While expressing your authentic self is key to improving happiness, helping others as you do so takes you to the next level. In fact, neuroscientists James Rilling and Gregory Berns from Emory University have shown that helping others switches on the same areas of the brain as when a person is receiving a reward or feeling pleasure. To feel good, do good! There is no cost for this pro-social expression of one’s gift, and it gives the giver with a joy that he or she can come back to, creating a positive loop effect. Because expressing kindness feels so good, it often makes you want to do it again.

Consider having your students think of an activity where they can use their gifts and passions to make a difference.

Empowering the Inner Life Through the Outer World

As students express their inner lives in their outer world, they grow as individuals and add to the greater good. If they can learn to share what makes them unique and special at a young age, they will have a big advantage in:

  • Improving self-awareness
  • Experiencing their capacities to help others
  • Feeling that they are living a happy and meaningful life

Happiness is Contagious

On a final note, have you considered that simply cultivating a state of happiness can be considered pro-social behavior? Research revealed that your happiness can bring out the best in others and is contagious to the third degree.

What are you doing to inspire your students to share their gifts? What are you doing to make your classroom a happier place? By adopting happiness as a skill set and improving social and emotional learning, your classroom, your students and their families can become forces of positive impact in the world around them. Just for a moment, imagine the possibilities . . .