Of course we want kids to be kind in general, but why does it really matter so much in a classroom?
In my 20+ years of primary experience, I find that if students don’t understand and feel empathy, they may have difficulty with conflict resolution.
And if they are without conflict resolution strategies, you’ll likely spend all day mediating disagreements.
Then, if you spend all your time on disagreements, you may have less time and energy to teach effective lessons, and students may not complete those lessons because they’ll be too busy arguing, crying, tattling…
I’m sure you know exactly what I mean!
CREATING A POSITIVE CLASSROOM CULTURE
Many of my students could not focus because they were constantly distracted by peer conflicts. It’s hard to focus on work when every interaction with peers is misinterpreted and filled with conflict.
We needed to work on:
Here are some ideas I have implemented to improve my classroom environment to create a peaceful atmosphere:
READ STORIES TO PROMOTE KINDNESS
WRITING ABOUT KINDNESS
During writing time with your class, have students write a “Happy Note” to the special helper of the day. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Students write a kind note about that person and drop it into the Happy Bucket. The special helper gets to take them all home – they are a cherished treasure and sharing them together is a great way to end the day!
I took some photos from my class notes below; aren’t they sweet?
BUILD A KIND CLASSROOM: Daily Practice
Begin each morning with a Friendship Circle, where students sit in a circle and give a compliment to the person sitting to the right, and that person says “Thank you” until you’ve gone all the way around. The last person gets to say something nice to the teacher!
(One of my favorite memories of this routine was when the last student in the circle looked up at me, trying to think of a compliment. Finally he said “I like how your hair smells like strawberry jam.” So cute!)
KINDNESS OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM
When your special helper takes notes or attendance to the office, let them deliver some happiness to the office! First, decide as a class on a compliment to deliver to the secretary or staff. Practice speaking directly with a smile.We say things like: “You look beautiful today.” or “I like your personality.” or ” I appreciate you.” Once they leave, the rest of the class waits to hear all about the Kindness Adventure to the office!
(One favorite memory was when a little boy told the secretary “I just love how your hair is all gray and puffy and white and just very….puffy on the sides!” We asked about her reaction, and he said, “She just said thank you and then turned around and her shoulders were shaking, so I guess she really liked it!”)
MORE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES
We cover all the important SEL topics using the full year curriculum called Kindness Classroom. There are hundreds of activities, writing ideas, games, posters and projects in the topics listed on the cover below. It’s been a game changer in my classroom!
Click HERE or on the picture below to see LOTS of pictures and sample lessons in the preview!
MORE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL / KINDNESS RESOURCES
This is a cute craft to encourage random acts of kindness!
Click the button BELOW to download!
Pin this free craft for later!
KINDNESS CARDS & WRITING
REINFORCE KINDNESS WITH DECOR
I also have this poster on my wall:
MAKING KINDNESS CLASS BOOKS
Each year we take the month of December to really focus on Random Acts of Kindness and caring for each other. If possible, I enjoy getting families involved. A few years ago we began making class books about random acts of kindness.
Each student takes home a one page template to fill out with a family member. They can write about kindness they’ve seen or a personal story. Sometimes families have purposely gone out to commit an act of kindness just so they could write about it!
Hopefully this will encourage discussion of kindness at home, which will deepen the understanding and meaning for my students.
Once completed, I ask students to bring their finished papers back to share with the class. It’s a very powerful conversation as students share their stories. Afterwards, we display them in the hallway, and eventually put them all together to make a class book.
Pin for later!
Pin for later!