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July 2, 2018

Creating a Culture of Kindness in Your Classroom

By Shari Carter
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. And it is important to remember that children watch their teachers all the time and listen to everything they say. Essential caring behaviors and kindness are more often “caught” than they are “taught” in the classroom.

    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.

    Writing With a Purpose

    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.

    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. In my classroom, I teach my students how to “listen with their hearts” from day one. When you teach children to truly listen for the meaning of what is being said, you are teaching them how to be kind and empathetic. Here are printable Kindness Cards from the Scholastic Teachables folks for you to use with your own class. 

    These are my kinders demonstrating how to listen with their hearts during our Author Share.  

    Random Acts of Kindness

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

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

    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.  

    The Be Kind People Project includes many resources on their website for use in your classroom.

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

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

    Lindsey Petlak — "Pay it Forward Every Day"

    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!

    Shari

    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. And it is important to remember that children watch their teachers all the time and listen to everything they say. Essential caring behaviors and kindness are more often “caught” than they are “taught” in the classroom.

    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.

    Writing With a Purpose

    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.

    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. In my classroom, I teach my students how to “listen with their hearts” from day one. When you teach children to truly listen for the meaning of what is being said, you are teaching them how to be kind and empathetic. Here are printable Kindness Cards from the Scholastic Teachables folks for you to use with your own class. 

    These are my kinders demonstrating how to listen with their hearts during our Author Share.  

    Random Acts of Kindness

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

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

    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.  

    The Be Kind People Project includes many resources on their website for use in your classroom.

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

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

    Lindsey Petlak — "Pay it Forward Every Day"

    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!

    Shari

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Susan Cheyney

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