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Creating a Culture of Kindness in Your Classroom

By Shari Carter on November 1, 2015
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

The best way to promote kindness and caring behaviors in our classrooms is to model them. When we show our students what it LOOKS like and SOUNDS like to be kind, there is a far greater chance they will repeat those modeled behaviors. It is so important to remember that children watch their teachers all the time and listen to everything they say (especially when it’s not in a lecture). Essential caring behaviors and kindness are more often “caught” than they are “taught” in the classroom.

 

Listen With Your Heart!

We teach our kids that listening is part of being “ready to learn,” but it is important to go one step further with regard to this vital life skill. Don’t be afraid to discuss with your children the importance of listening. In my classroom, I teach my students how to “listen with their hearts” from day one. When you teach children to care enough to listen, truly listen for the meaning of what is being said, you are teaching them how to be kind and empathetic. Here is a printable "Give Me Five" poster that includes the "Listen With Your Heart" saying for you to use with your own class. 

These are my sweet little kinders demonstrating how to listen with their hearts during our Author Share. I just love these kids!

 

Random Acts of Kindness

Our school, Cecil D. Andrus Elementary, is a wonderful place to work. The halls are filled with the most caring and friendly staff that one could ever hope to find. It is a blessing to work in a positive environment where people are caring and look out for one another. I am excited to see my students every day, but I also look forward to being around people who bring out the very best in me.

Last year our school started a Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Secret Buddy program. It is an optional activity (that’s tons of fun) for staff to be a part of if they choose. The program is easy to organize and a great way boost morale and do kind things for one another.

At our school, the social committee organizes the RAK program. The first thing they do is send out a questionnaire to fill out for people who want to be a part of RAK. This questionnaire gives your RAK Buddy lots of personal information, so they can do thoughtful things for you during the school year. At the end of the year, our social committee hosts a RAK Buddy reveal party, and it is so much fun to finally find out who was spoiling you with kindness throughout the year.

My littles trying to make a heart sign with their hands. So very sweet.

 

Kindness in the Classroom

There are so many resources to help bring kindness into your classroom. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has a great website for teachers that includes lessons, videos, and kindness ideas. My kids get very excited about our RAK Buddy program and this is just one more way to promote kindness in your classroom. Additionally, “research has shown that teaching social and emotional skills like kindness improves behavior and academic success.” (randomactsofkindness.org). Please watch this video for more information on how to teach kindness in your classroom. 

 

Celebrate World Kindness Day!

Friday, November 13 is World Kindness Day. This day is a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. There are many ways to get your class involved, and it is just one more way to instill and teach kindness to your students. I can’t wait to celebrate this special day with my kiddos and I hope you will join me too. I would LOVE to hear how you will be celebrating, so please take a moment to leave a comment below to share your ideas with other educators. 

 

Are You a Bucket Filler?

I always seem to do so much community building at the beginning of the school year and then as the school year rolls along (and the kids get comfortable with one another), I am quickly reminded that I need to continue to foster an environment that is filled with lots of love and kindness. I love the book How Full is Your Bucket? The story has very relatable characters and a symbol (the bucket) that is easy for young children to understand. After sharing this book with my class, we discuss that when we do kind things for others, it makes us feel good too. I like to follow up the story by building a “Bucket Filler/Bucket Dipper” anchor chart. You can click HERE to download the all parts to build this chart with your class.

Gotta love kindergarten writing: "I am a Bucket Filler When I... Obey My Mom!"

 

Writing With a Purpose

I remember in my early years of teaching, I use to always feel like I needed to provide prompts for my kids to use in writing. Now I realize the importance of students having a voice and control in their writing. When my kids journal, I never tell them what they can or can’t write about. I want them to write about topics that are important to them. When reading a book like How Full is Your Bucket?, it gives students the opportunity to have text-to-self connections and makes writing much more authentic for the teacher and her students. In this writing assignment, I asked my kids to think about ways in which they could be “Bucket Fillers” and after we brainstormed quite an extensive list, it was very easy for them to write about how they could fill the buckets of other people and ultimately, spread kindness around the world! If you would like to do this writing project with your class, please click HERE to download the writing paper I used with my kindergarteners. 

 

Resources to Build a Culture of Kindness in Your Classroom

I have a bee-themed classroom (I just love those cute, little bugs and their bright yellow and black color), so you have got to imagine just how excited I was when I stumbled upon The Be Kind People Project! The following is this great organization's mission statement: “The Be Kind People Project is to initiate positive social change in schools, to improve the learning environment for enhanced student achievement, to significantly ameliorate unwanted behavior issues-often manifested or interpreted as bullying, and to provide a comprehensive and culturally relevant framework for responsible and enduring youth development.” There are all kind of resources under the teacher tab and there are pledges you can download to use with your students as you teach kindness in the classroom.

Just a few of the Be Kind resources for you to use:

  • Classroom Kindness Kits

  • Take the Be Kind Pledge

  • National Contests

  • Online Learning Resources

  • Kindest Teacher in America (recognition/award program)

  • Be Kind T-shirts (shown below)

Excited to learn more about The Be Kind People Project. I'm thinking I definitely need one of these cute T-shirts to go with my bee-themed classroom!

If you would like more inspiration on creating a culture of kindness in your classroom, please check out buddy bloggers:

Beth Newingham — "Have Your Students Filled a Bucket Today?"

Lindsey Petlak — "Pay it Forward Every Day."

 

I am very excited to share this special promotion for Top Teaching blog readers! Here are great book selections and savings all in one place — just for my readers, family, and friends. This is a super Thankgiving sale!

 

Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox. Thanks for reading!

Remember, "A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone's day!" (author unknown). Have fun spreading kindness and joy in your classroom!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Shari

Comments (9)

Amazing post Shari! Well done and extremely timely!

Thank you so much Rhonda!

Such a lovely post and a great sentiment to share with kids. Home run from Ms. Carter!

Such a lovely post and a great sentiment to share with kids. Home run from Ms. Carter!

I am grateful every day that you are Sawyer's teacher. Thank you for your kindness and everything you are teaching your students and my son about being a good, kind person.

Cheryl,
Your words touched my heart - thank you! I am incredibly blessed to be Sawyer's teacher and you have done such a great job raising that boy. He truly is an everyday example if kindness. He has such a gentle nature and is always so kind and sweet to all the kids in our class!!

Shari, herself, is an act of kindness and a burst of sunshine to all who know her.

Thanks mama....you raised me well and the person I am today is because of the love you gave me each and every day of my life! Love you and thank you for being my biggest fan! xoxo

Shari, herself, is an act of kindness and a burst of sunshine to all who know her.

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