THE GRATITUDE PROJECT
NIE Cleaners community and GESL Group 1, Postgraduate Diploma in Education Primary Programme
In the spirit of celebrating Singapore's 50th birthday, we reflected on its several lauded traits; in particular, our country's cleanliness. We noted that there are many groups of people we could thank for that, especially the cleaners.
The prospect of starting a gratitude movement was appealing, given that research supports how practising gratitude can increase levels of happiness. We wanted to bring a little sunshine and, at the same time, give back to NIE. We decided to focus the movement on the NIE cleaning staff members (some are of the pioneer generation). We believed that by promoting gratitude culture in NIE/ NTU, we could permeate positive vibes and participation, better our well-being and make us better student teachers.
During Gratitude Week, we publicised our event by reaching out to different lecture groups, putting up posters and table advertisements, and distributing mission cards. Posters and table advertisements were designed to be put up around NIE to raise awareness about being gracious to NIE's cleaning staff members.
To promote active participation, we designed mission cards and distributed them at a booth. Each card had a mission for the cardholder to complete, such as "Greet a cleaner today". Upon completion, the cardholder of the card was asked to pass the card on to another to do the mission. We managed to give out a large number of cards.
We collected 220 responses by conducting a survey of NIE student teachers and staff members. The survey focused on the amount of gratitude shown in NIE and also on feedback about how the project had helped them.
We received positive encouragement from the NIE community. The general sentiment was that the campaign was a good idea and that it had helped in raising awareness. Some felt that the cards helped them be more mindful of what they do and say to the service staff members and to be more grateful for what they had.
Our campaign ended with an Appreciation Lunch for the cleaning community. In order to determine if our project had indeed raised the level of gratitude towards cleaning staff members in NIE, we collected feedback after lunch.
The cleaning staff commented that more student teachers were saying words of thanks, and that they would like for this event to be held more often. They also said that there were more acts of gratitude during Gratitude Week, ranging from having conversations to people being more mindful of what they did, such as clearing of their plates and creating less mess. We saw an improvement in the relationship between the student teacher community and the cleaning staff members.