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March 27, 2018

Promoting Campus-Wide Kindness

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Kindness counts. And today, it counts more than ever. In my classroom, spreading kindness is a top priority. Above all else, I want my students to be happy. When there is peace and harmony in my room, we are always more productive, and learning comes with greater ease.

    Modeling kindness is important. We can’t expect our students to be mindful and kind if we are not providing good examples. Teaching kindness is important, but giving our students the opportunity to experience what kindness feels like is what they will remember.

    Kindness Planner

    I have kindness reminders all over my classroom. They make me smile. Scholastic sent me this beautiful planner to evaluate. This resource has all the contents you would expect to see in a planner. But, what I really like about it is that there are all kinds of kindness activities and inspirational quotes throughout.

    At our school, kindness is abundant! It's one of the things I like best about where I teach. I am excited to share some of the awesome activities our staff does to make our school a kinder, more mindful place to learn and be.

    Meet Mrs. Tobias

    Mrs. Tobias does yoga with her fourth graders daily and she has turned roll call into a daily affirmation session. Here’s what she had to say about teaching self-awareness and mindfulness:

    "I began doing yoga with my students 10 years ago. I realized the benefits of yoga were very similar to Brain Gym. Brain Gym reconnects both sides of the brain, which is extremely good for focus. However, I felt compelled to start yoga in my classroom because I wanted my students to gain self-awareness, as well as mindfulness. In the last three years, I’ve added goal setting and a challenge to be kind to themselves and others."

    "Three years ago, I found the sweetest daily affirmations video on YouTube. At the beginning of the school year, my students and I always watch it. After viewing the video, we discuss positive character traits and daily affirmations. Each morning when I take attendance, I say good morning “so-and-so” and they pop up out of their chair and reply with 'I am [and then their daily affirmation].''"

    Here are two of Mrs. Tobias's favorite books:

     

    Meet Mrs. Benedick

    Mrs. Benedick is a first-grade teacher, and she does something pretty special with her students. I knew she chose a student weekly to have hot chocolate with, but I never knew the reasons behind it. Here's what she had to say about her hot chocolate meetings.

    "At the end of the year, I had a mom ask me to write in the book, Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss about her child. Of course I knew I would, and of course her child was one of the kids who was a model student. As I sat there to write in it, I realized I had spent so much time on the other kids who demanded my attention, that I didn't even know this girl. I mean I did know her, but I didn't really know her. I knew that the next year things had to change."

    "So I decided to have hot chocolate with each of my students when it was their turn to be our class Super Star... They come 15 minutes early on one morning during their Super Star week. We make hot chocolate, and sit and talk about things that are important to that student. I have learned so much and I noticed that many of them come out of their shell after our time together. The student that I had hot cocoa with today made a five-day countdown until he got to have hot chocolate with me. Priceless!"

    Meet Mrs. Stoddard

    Mrs. Stoddard is a fourth-grade teacher who is all about building relationships. I just love the messages she leaves for her kids! Her students are given the opportunity to write messages too! Here's what Mrs. Stoddard had to say about building relationships through personal messages:

    "Building student relationships is a priority in my teaching practice. In order for my students to meet the high expectations I set, I ensure that I hold these relationships to a high degree of importance. I discovered through experience that students will work incredibly hard to meet the high expectations when they know that their teacher cares."

    "One way that I build these relationships is through my daily whiteboard/desk messages. The messages vary and are purposefully written to meet the current needs of my students. For example, I may have students respond to the whiteboard prompt by setting a goal that they have for the day/week; write a kind statement for a peer; share some of their “favorite” things; or analyze a quote that encourages students to be kinder, to work harder, or to be encouraged. This simple idea takes less than 20 minutes to implement on a daily basis, but the effect of this relationship-building task has positively impacted my relationships with my students. It has also created the opportunity to have a classroom culture that promotes kindness, encouragement, and an understanding of each other. More importantly, it’s given my classroom of fourth grade students a core foundation of how to hold each other accountable and how to find the good in all of us, even when it is hard to do so."

    Meet Mrs. Howard

    Mrs. Howard is a second-grade teacher. She is a caring and compassionate teacher, and her students are fortunate to be in such a warm and loving classroom.

    I love the cute KINDOSAURUS posters she did with her kids! These are super-fun, fill-in posters from Scholastic that will help promote kindness in your classroom.  

    Meet Mrs. Werley

    Mrs. Werley is a third-grade teacher at our school. She is thoughtful and kind, and her students just ADORE her! Maybe it's because she takes the time to write personal notes to her students. She gives them encouragement and recognition for the kindness they show. I love the kindness postcards she uses to write her thoughtful notes. These are also available from Scholastic. I can only imagine just how special Mrs. Werley's students feel when they receive their postcards!  

    Meet Teacher Diane

    Teacher Diane is a preschool teacher who believes kids are NEVER too young to learn about kindness and compassion. Teacher Diane is unbelievably patient with her littlest learners. She is the epitome of kindness, and she continues to shine bright for her students today. Here are some of the awe-inspiring activities Teacher Diane has done with her students:

    "I teach 3- and 4-year old preschoolers. Along with the basic ABCs and 123s, I try to teach compassion and kindness.  It's an easy thing to do when you look at the world around you and realize that there are many opportunities to show the littles that they can make a difference in someone's life in a positive way. In the past, I have had the children put together care packages for what I called "Operation Encouragement," sending cards and treats to our military overseas.  In our city, we had a sad situation of a K-9 police dog who was injured in the line of duty. We made cards for him, which also showed support for his handler who was also injured. At Thanksgiving time, we talk about those less fortunate and I have them bring a canned good for the homeless. At Christmas we talk about those homeless children and we donate hats and gloves. I teach about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the children are quite curious about him. His name comes up many times during the year in reference to what he would like us to do, and how we should act towards one another. They may be only three or four, but they "get it." We talk about people who are new to our country and are looking for friends. In the spring, we offer seeds to the refugees who have gardens behind our school. The children want them to grow good things to eat."

    "Most recently, we made cards for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I told [my students] that some children were sad and wanted to be friends with them. They ask me every day about those children. I'm so proud of what they have learned about being kind and compassionate and my hope is that they will take this with them as they move on in life."

    How to Make an Apology

    We work on being kind all year, but from time to time, we do things that hurt people. Teaching your kids how to say sorry is very important. I believe mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. My little learners know that when they have hurt someone's feelings, they have to take steps to make it right.

    There are many steps to making a sincere apology, and in kindergarten, we work them all the time! Please feel free to use this apology sign in your classroom!

    Many kids just say "Sorry," but in our class, we say sorry like we mean it! We also look the other person in the eyes when we apologize. It is important to state what you are sorry for.

    This is one of the harder parts of an apology. I ask my kids to tell the person they are apologizing to why what they did was wrong. I believe this step makes the kids think hard about their actions.

    In kindergarten, we do a lot of role playing. It's important for young children to have the opportunity to think about how they could have handled the dilemma differently.

    Asking for forgiveness....

    Hugs make everything better! In kindergarten, we do a LOT of hugging. Sometimes kids just want to give a quick apology, but I encourage them give hugs after working resolving their conflicts. It's hard to stay mad at someone when you're hugging!

    Meet Mrs. Roberts

    Our principal is the BEST! Mrs. Roberts works tirelessly to create a positive experience for students and employees alike. Today was our last day of school before spring break, and boy did Mrs. Roberts go ALL OUT for our staff!

    Our principal asked the staff to wear orange, and gave us a "jeans day" to boot! We didn't know why she wanted us to wear orange, but upon arriving, we quickly figured it out! The first thing I noticed were the, "ORANGE you glad it's spring break" signs hanging all throughout the school. She also hid those little mandarin oranges known as "Cuties" (with smiley faces) around the school. We ate orange goodies all day long! It felt so good to be appreciated and to know that kindness counts.  

    Sweet Substitutes

    Picking a kind sub is critical in kindergarten, and we are lucky to have some of the very best! My sub, Mrs. Puckett, sent me a text saying she was extremely touched by what one of my students wrote to her. She consistently models kindness and that is exactly what kiddos need when their teachers have to be out of the classroom.

    I hope you can use some of these activities and that you always remember, when you love what you teach, your students will love what they learn!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a spring that's sprinkled with kindness!  

    xo-Shari

    P.S. Have a wonderful spring break . . . you’ve earned it!!

     

    Kindness counts. And today, it counts more than ever. In my classroom, spreading kindness is a top priority. Above all else, I want my students to be happy. When there is peace and harmony in my room, we are always more productive, and learning comes with greater ease.

    Modeling kindness is important. We can’t expect our students to be mindful and kind if we are not providing good examples. Teaching kindness is important, but giving our students the opportunity to experience what kindness feels like is what they will remember.

    Kindness Planner

    I have kindness reminders all over my classroom. They make me smile. Scholastic sent me this beautiful planner to evaluate. This resource has all the contents you would expect to see in a planner. But, what I really like about it is that there are all kinds of kindness activities and inspirational quotes throughout.

    At our school, kindness is abundant! It's one of the things I like best about where I teach. I am excited to share some of the awesome activities our staff does to make our school a kinder, more mindful place to learn and be.

    Meet Mrs. Tobias

    Mrs. Tobias does yoga with her fourth graders daily and she has turned roll call into a daily affirmation session. Here’s what she had to say about teaching self-awareness and mindfulness:

    "I began doing yoga with my students 10 years ago. I realized the benefits of yoga were very similar to Brain Gym. Brain Gym reconnects both sides of the brain, which is extremely good for focus. However, I felt compelled to start yoga in my classroom because I wanted my students to gain self-awareness, as well as mindfulness. In the last three years, I’ve added goal setting and a challenge to be kind to themselves and others."

    "Three years ago, I found the sweetest daily affirmations video on YouTube. At the beginning of the school year, my students and I always watch it. After viewing the video, we discuss positive character traits and daily affirmations. Each morning when I take attendance, I say good morning “so-and-so” and they pop up out of their chair and reply with 'I am [and then their daily affirmation].''"

    Here are two of Mrs. Tobias's favorite books:

     

    Meet Mrs. Benedick

    Mrs. Benedick is a first-grade teacher, and she does something pretty special with her students. I knew she chose a student weekly to have hot chocolate with, but I never knew the reasons behind it. Here's what she had to say about her hot chocolate meetings.

    "At the end of the year, I had a mom ask me to write in the book, Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss about her child. Of course I knew I would, and of course her child was one of the kids who was a model student. As I sat there to write in it, I realized I had spent so much time on the other kids who demanded my attention, that I didn't even know this girl. I mean I did know her, but I didn't really know her. I knew that the next year things had to change."

    "So I decided to have hot chocolate with each of my students when it was their turn to be our class Super Star... They come 15 minutes early on one morning during their Super Star week. We make hot chocolate, and sit and talk about things that are important to that student. I have learned so much and I noticed that many of them come out of their shell after our time together. The student that I had hot cocoa with today made a five-day countdown until he got to have hot chocolate with me. Priceless!"

    Meet Mrs. Stoddard

    Mrs. Stoddard is a fourth-grade teacher who is all about building relationships. I just love the messages she leaves for her kids! Her students are given the opportunity to write messages too! Here's what Mrs. Stoddard had to say about building relationships through personal messages:

    "Building student relationships is a priority in my teaching practice. In order for my students to meet the high expectations I set, I ensure that I hold these relationships to a high degree of importance. I discovered through experience that students will work incredibly hard to meet the high expectations when they know that their teacher cares."

    "One way that I build these relationships is through my daily whiteboard/desk messages. The messages vary and are purposefully written to meet the current needs of my students. For example, I may have students respond to the whiteboard prompt by setting a goal that they have for the day/week; write a kind statement for a peer; share some of their “favorite” things; or analyze a quote that encourages students to be kinder, to work harder, or to be encouraged. This simple idea takes less than 20 minutes to implement on a daily basis, but the effect of this relationship-building task has positively impacted my relationships with my students. It has also created the opportunity to have a classroom culture that promotes kindness, encouragement, and an understanding of each other. More importantly, it’s given my classroom of fourth grade students a core foundation of how to hold each other accountable and how to find the good in all of us, even when it is hard to do so."

    Meet Mrs. Howard

    Mrs. Howard is a second-grade teacher. She is a caring and compassionate teacher, and her students are fortunate to be in such a warm and loving classroom.

    I love the cute KINDOSAURUS posters she did with her kids! These are super-fun, fill-in posters from Scholastic that will help promote kindness in your classroom.  

    Meet Mrs. Werley

    Mrs. Werley is a third-grade teacher at our school. She is thoughtful and kind, and her students just ADORE her! Maybe it's because she takes the time to write personal notes to her students. She gives them encouragement and recognition for the kindness they show. I love the kindness postcards she uses to write her thoughtful notes. These are also available from Scholastic. I can only imagine just how special Mrs. Werley's students feel when they receive their postcards!  

    Meet Teacher Diane

    Teacher Diane is a preschool teacher who believes kids are NEVER too young to learn about kindness and compassion. Teacher Diane is unbelievably patient with her littlest learners. She is the epitome of kindness, and she continues to shine bright for her students today. Here are some of the awe-inspiring activities Teacher Diane has done with her students:

    "I teach 3- and 4-year old preschoolers. Along with the basic ABCs and 123s, I try to teach compassion and kindness.  It's an easy thing to do when you look at the world around you and realize that there are many opportunities to show the littles that they can make a difference in someone's life in a positive way. In the past, I have had the children put together care packages for what I called "Operation Encouragement," sending cards and treats to our military overseas.  In our city, we had a sad situation of a K-9 police dog who was injured in the line of duty. We made cards for him, which also showed support for his handler who was also injured. At Thanksgiving time, we talk about those less fortunate and I have them bring a canned good for the homeless. At Christmas we talk about those homeless children and we donate hats and gloves. I teach about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the children are quite curious about him. His name comes up many times during the year in reference to what he would like us to do, and how we should act towards one another. They may be only three or four, but they "get it." We talk about people who are new to our country and are looking for friends. In the spring, we offer seeds to the refugees who have gardens behind our school. The children want them to grow good things to eat."

    "Most recently, we made cards for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I told [my students] that some children were sad and wanted to be friends with them. They ask me every day about those children. I'm so proud of what they have learned about being kind and compassionate and my hope is that they will take this with them as they move on in life."

    How to Make an Apology

    We work on being kind all year, but from time to time, we do things that hurt people. Teaching your kids how to say sorry is very important. I believe mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. My little learners know that when they have hurt someone's feelings, they have to take steps to make it right.

    There are many steps to making a sincere apology, and in kindergarten, we work them all the time! Please feel free to use this apology sign in your classroom!

    Many kids just say "Sorry," but in our class, we say sorry like we mean it! We also look the other person in the eyes when we apologize. It is important to state what you are sorry for.

    This is one of the harder parts of an apology. I ask my kids to tell the person they are apologizing to why what they did was wrong. I believe this step makes the kids think hard about their actions.

    In kindergarten, we do a lot of role playing. It's important for young children to have the opportunity to think about how they could have handled the dilemma differently.

    Asking for forgiveness....

    Hugs make everything better! In kindergarten, we do a LOT of hugging. Sometimes kids just want to give a quick apology, but I encourage them give hugs after working resolving their conflicts. It's hard to stay mad at someone when you're hugging!

    Meet Mrs. Roberts

    Our principal is the BEST! Mrs. Roberts works tirelessly to create a positive experience for students and employees alike. Today was our last day of school before spring break, and boy did Mrs. Roberts go ALL OUT for our staff!

    Our principal asked the staff to wear orange, and gave us a "jeans day" to boot! We didn't know why she wanted us to wear orange, but upon arriving, we quickly figured it out! The first thing I noticed were the, "ORANGE you glad it's spring break" signs hanging all throughout the school. She also hid those little mandarin oranges known as "Cuties" (with smiley faces) around the school. We ate orange goodies all day long! It felt so good to be appreciated and to know that kindness counts.  

    Sweet Substitutes

    Picking a kind sub is critical in kindergarten, and we are lucky to have some of the very best! My sub, Mrs. Puckett, sent me a text saying she was extremely touched by what one of my students wrote to her. She consistently models kindness and that is exactly what kiddos need when their teachers have to be out of the classroom.

    I hope you can use some of these activities and that you always remember, when you love what you teach, your students will love what they learn!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a spring that's sprinkled with kindness!  

    xo-Shari

    P.S. Have a wonderful spring break . . . you’ve earned it!!

     

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