I happened to be in Michael's yesterday, feeding my insatiable craft addiction. This week my search was for the perfect colored pencils (found 'em!) I hadn't traveled more than 10 steps into the store when I was surrounded by an explosion of Valentine crafting materials. Rather than feeling as if the season had been rushed, I was instead filled with warm fuzzies, remembering all the Valentine's Days in my life, both inside and outside of the classroom. Sigh....Valentine's Day....when even the air seems tinged with pink and silver, when our hearts are filled to bursting with warm thoughts for others. And, because most thoughts lead me back to the classroom, I recalled many pleasant memories of students filling my desk with candy and valentines, and eagerly checking their own mailboxes for kind thoughts and affirmations that their classmates care about them.
"Why can't we have those same warm fuzzies floating around our classrooms every day?" I thought. "Well, why not?" I answered. (Yeah, it happens all the time. I talk to myself and I answer.) But truly teachers, why not? As I continued my trek to the fine arts section (Yes, I was interested in serious colored pencils - suitable for me and my favorite five year old artist to test out!), I brainstormed some ways that the infusion of kindness and warm fuzzy thoughts might be a part of our classrooms every day. I could not wait to get back here and share some of them with you!
Work Hard. Play Hard. Keep Kindnessin' Like It's Your Job!
Borrowing lyrics again here, and not even sure where I heard this one, but kids will often party like it's their job. Sometimes right in the middle of that amazing lesson on finding common denominators in fractions. What if they saw being kind and becoming role models of kindness as their job? What if it really was a job in your classroom? A job with as much importance attached as line leader or lunch counter? Starting here, because this is my number one idea! I fairly danced into the fine art section, singing (probably not too softly) to myself, "Work hard, play hard, keep kindnessin' like it's your job!" over and over. Ha! The aisles cleared for me! Sometimes I wonder why they even let me shop there anymore! I did notice that people were smiling as I passed by. The mention of the word kindness seems to make most people pretty darn happy!
As a teacher, I've had a positive response to kids having classroom jobs. Kids respond well on all levels when they feel that they have a voice, when they feel that things are happening WITH them, rather than TO them. People in general appreciate having a voice in matters that affect them.
Try this: Assign one to four students per day or per week to act as “Kindness Ambassadors”, “The Kindness Crew” or even “Captains of Kindness”. Create a title together for students whose job it will be to spread kindness throughout your school day.
Your Kindness Crew can model kindness all day long: greeting visitors to your room, sitting with a classmate who seems to be struggling with something, just offering a smile wherever needed, including others at lunch/recess. The kindness will be contagious. After a few rounds, try offering the badges to a few kindness-challenged kids and watch them change before your eyes!
If you'd like your kids to try kindnessin' like it's their job with this free badge, click below:
Reflection can be very helpful when we are about to try something new. Have we ever tried anything like this before? Did we learn anything? If acts of kindness have been more random so far in your classroom, and you are thinking of making them more intentional, a kindness journal might be a helpful and fun tool tool for your students to try.
Try focusing on kindness for a week in your classroom, using one of these prompts as a quick write each day. You may also print lots of pretty pages and assemble some fun art/writing materials at a center and let kids create their own kindness journals as a center activity. Either way, reflecting on what kindness is, and how each student has experienced kindness will take your classroom community a little farther down the road to a group of people who are kind to each other every day.
Try this forever free journal to get the reflection started:
Thanks for stopping by, and considering kindness as lesson-worthy! For many more amazing forever free resources to share with your class, be sure to search TpT with the hashtags #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. I'm sure you'll find several new lessons or support materials to love. I know I did! And for more resources and blog posts about kindness and justice, be sure to check out the blog linky posted below!