Much contemporary research highlights the essential role of gratitude – briefly defined here as “giving back out of recognition for what we receive” – in building and maintaining relationships. A recent case study in the context of the role of gratitude by teachers and school leaders in a regional Western Australian school has shown that increased attention to gratitude can have a positive impact on both collegial and teacher-student relationships, as well as the whole school environment (Howells, 2014).  This workshop will take account of the busy and stressful lives of educators and answer some of the complexities relating to practising gratitude in times of adversity and in the midst of the negativity of others. It will also explore some of the important cultural differences that need to be considered when expressing gratitude, and in particular those of indigenous people. It is envisioned that participants will leave the workshop feeling inspired to lead and teach with greater attention to gratitude, and have practical strategies to do so.


About Kerry


Dr Kerry Howells is a teacher educator in the University of Tasmania (UTAS) Faculty of Education, teaching in the areas of professional studies, practitioner research, and teacher leadership. Over the past two decades Kerry has been researching the role of gratitude in enhancing teaching and learning processes at all levels of education.


Kerry has published several academic papers that report on the findings of her research on the role of gratitude in the areas of school leadership, pre-service teacher education, and school education. Her book, Howells, K. (2012) Gratitude in Education: A Radical View is the first full text to be written on this topic, and has been hailed by reviewers around the world as “ground-breaking”. Kerry draws on a range of case studies in different levels of education – from primary to university - to further our understanding of both the complexities and possibilities of gratitude for education and other fields. Twelve different groups, including principals and academics, have conducted professional learning through book clubs centred around Gratitude in Education. Many in the field of Positive Psychology have been using this text in their practice and teaching courses.


In her most recent work, Kerry has been exploring the implications for education of cultural differences in expressions of gratitude. She has conducted her investigation in the areas of Australian Aboriginal and Maori cultures, and following on from her time as a visiting scholar at the University of South Africa in 2014, in indigenous African culture. In June 2015 Kerry was invited by an NGO to speak at the United Nations on the relationship between gratitude and human dignity.