PART I - ME (You gotta "be the change," you know!)
First of all, I ALWAYS have thank you notes available in my classroom. This way whenever a colleague or a student is deserving of appreciation, I have them on-hand and can deliver promptly (instead of repeatedly forgetting, not that I ever forget things... repeatedly...). Some of them are plain old generic notes that actually have "Thank You" printed on them, some are just super cute FACS-y cards like these:
Nice recipe cards also work well for thank you notes:
And then of course you've seen my personalized cards before.
Never underestimate the goodwill you can create simply by taking the time to write out a thank you to someone who has helped you out! And again, this applies to students as well!
PART II - MY STUDENTS
I work a one-day unit on thank you cards into at least two preps each year, sometimes more. Here's a typical lesson outline for this:
Bell-Prompt: Describe a time when someone actually acknowledged something nice you did for them, and how it made you feel.
Intro: Discussion of the importance of saying thank you, the effect it can have on a relationship, what happens when you let an opportunity to show appreciation slip by, when are thank yous expected, etc, etc, wherever the conversation leads you.
View: One or two "Thank You Notes" segments from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I think the biggest hit from this year was this Thanksgiving segment.
Model: Appropriate format - heading, thank you, reason for thank you, closing, signature.
Practice: Have the kids write out one or two "funny" (but school appropriate!) thank you notes, and share with the class. (One of my favorites from this year: Thank you, Metabolism, for letting me totally pig out all the time and not gain any weight. I will miss you some day. Love, djfskjksld)
Action: Give kids actual thank you notes, and have them write a thank you note to the teacher/staff member of their choice. Stress appropriateness; also, specificity. If any concern at all, let them know you will be previewing them as part of your instructions. A lot of the kids kind of groan about this, but they can all think of at least one person who has done something nice for them. And, the teachers and staff LOVE receiving these! Goodwill fostered all around!