Friday, August 11, 2017

Being Kind

So apparently I wrote this post back in May but never posted it. So I'll share it now. :) 

I had my students do lots of reflection this last week of school. It's amazing to me how short-term their memories are. :) When I would ask them for examples of their favorite memory it was something that happened that day or that week. They don't really go to the field trips or events we did at the beginning of the year.

Anyway, in addition to our curriculum and the myriad of goals I have for my students in the short time I have with them, one of my goals is to teach them how to be kind. Now you would think this would be a skill that doesn't need to be taught-you would be wrong. My students come to me with lots of different experiences and backgrounds but the one thing they have in common is many do not innately put the needs of others before themselves. The world pretty much revolves around them. 

So we teach them how to be kind. How do we do that? I model for them with my interactions and my tone of voice. When a student hands another their lunchbox and they snatch and say "don't touch my lunchbox". I will say "thank you Sally, for thinking of me but I'd rather get my own lunchbox". When someone says "can I have my spot back in line" and the student responds NO! I say "Johnny, maybe ask Madeline if you can get in front of her, she is usually kind". I was eating lunch with a group of students one day and the boy said "my mom didn't pack me a drink". Another student said "I'm not going to drink my milk-you can have it." The response from the boy was "I hate milk!". In that situation I just say "thank you Johnny for offering, that was very nice of you".

The other thing I tried this year is Compliment Circles. Probably once a week we would sit in a circle and the students would say something nice about the student next to them. Now again this seems like an easy task, but for them it took some practice. They would say something that they felt was a compliment-"he can burp the alphabet" for example and I would have to redirect and give them some sentence stems: I really like how he ____________, he always remembers to _________, etc. They would also tend to say the same things every time "she is a good listener"-true, but what specifically does she do that you like? Sometimes they were sitting next to their nemesis at the time and it was hard to think of something nice to say at all. The students would beg to do this activity all the time, I think it was effective.

The other way is with read-alouds, of course. My kiddos would refer back to stories about other students all the time. Here are some of my favorites:

We make ripples with our kindness every day-or lack of kindness-that makes ripples for people too. We discuss why the students shunned this new student and what we could do differently.

So many studies of teens who are violent toward their peers show that they are the loners-the ones that eat alone, sit alone. I think it's good to teach kids early to look out for those kiddos and include them so they don't feel invisible.

Nutmeg is a bit of a selfish friend until Barley gets sick and then she takes care of him like a pro. A great example of how we can look our for the ones we care about.

Poor Fang-since he's a shark everyone is scared of him-except for Nugget. He sees past Fang's ethnicity and they still strike up a friendship.

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