Hello everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Tell All Tuesday. Thank you so much for stopping by, we’re sorry that we missed last week but we’re so excited to be back this week with a very important topic. Most teachers find themselves in a familiar place this time of year. They’re either working furiously to set their classrooms up to make sure that their school year gets off on the right foot, or they have already begun another wonderful year with new students.
Diana and I recognized this and as much as we know the importance of setting up a perfectly organized classroom, there’s something else that is extremely important and necessary to put into place from day 1 of the school year. And that is deciding and planning how you as the teacher will help inspire and instill kindness in the classroom.
I’m about to dive headfirst into my 6th year of teaching and something that I have tried more and more as my career goes on is to make sure that my students are not only succeeding academically but socially as well. First grade is such an important year to lay academic foundations but it is also a crucial time to help students gain confidence and compassion. For this reason and many more, Diana and I decided to focus on kindness in and out of the classroom for this week’s post. We hope that we can offer some ideas for you to help instill kindness in your classroom, in your school, and also in your home or personal life. Below you will find a roundup of some of my favorite ways to inspire kindness that I’ve tried in my classroom and some other things I hope to do in the future.
Inspiring kindness in my classroom is something that I try to do from minute 1 of the new school year. Something I have found to be crucial in modeling kindness and allowing time for students to practice treating others with compassion is during morning meeting. I use Responsive Classroom’s Morning Meeting in my classroom and ever since I started it last year, it’s been a game changer. This 20-30 minutes of time at the very beginning of the day helps us build community by greeting each and every single person in the room, listening to friends share about things they’re excited about, play games or activities to get to know each other, and time to put things into practice during morning message. Morning meeting also guarantees our class a time to discuss problems that may arise and role play social situations where students need to make better choices. I have to thank morning meeting for allowing me the time and environment to establish kindness in my classroom.
Some other practical and fun ways that I have been able to establish a kind environment is through classroom management tools like the V.I.P. table and Brag Tags. I do not have “tables” in my classroom so instead of designating one area in my classroom for V.I.P’s, I have two traveling baskets that magically appear on a new V.I.P’s desk each morning.
When the students enter, we always discuss WHY these students were given the title of V.I.P. for the day and WHAT kind or caring act they did the day before to earn this privilege. The V.I.P. basket is NEVER given without explanation during morning meeting and a discussion with the class. This allows the students a chance to learn from others and see how their actions whether they realize it or not are appreciated.
Brag Tags have been a wonderful addition to my classroom especially the area of instilling kindness and compassion in my students. I wanted to do brag tags for a while but I wanted them to have a specific purpose and that purpose was to reward behavior that aligned with the 6 pillars of character education. The brag tags that are given in my classroom have the sense of accomplishment, yes, but they also all align with being a kind, caring, and helpful friend.
Once my little friends earn their brag tags, the pride they have is so strong because they are told why they earned them and can feel a sense of accomplishment when they wear those tags around their necks. It’s the sweetest thing! These character education themed brag tags can be found in my TpT store by clicking here if you’re interested in learning more about them!
I know this next example is a hotly contested idea, but I do still see benefits for my ol’ clip chart. So, for now it’s sticking around. I have to say my clip chart is MOSTLY for reinforcing smart choices and celebrating moments where students are acting kind and showing compassion towards other friends and adults. This immediate positive reinforcement has been so helpful and students are thrilled to reach Super Student by the end of the day.
When my students receive, Super Student 5 times, their clip gets 5 stickers/jewels on it and they get to choose a reward to celebrate. These rewards are NOT toys from a toy or treasure box. They are activities that students can do to show their hard work. Choices in my room to celebrate our kind kids are:
Teacher’s Assistant for the Day (they get to sit at my desk, use any and all of my supplies, clip kids on the chart up, give out brag tags, and help with other tasks around the room)
Eat lunch with the Teacher and a Friend
Have Stinky Socks For a Day (No shoes, no problem!)
Bring In a Stuffed Animal for The Day
Read a Book to the Class
Give a Spelling Test
Here’s a picture of one of my previous students acting as Teacher’s Assistant and wearing our clip necklace around his neck (shows the clips that have reached Super Student on our chart for the day.)
If you’re looking for picture books to help teach friendship, kindness, and compassion, these are a few favorites of mine!
There is no one way to help inspire kindness in the classroom, no perfect activity, or necessary book. The key ingredient really has to be you, the teacher. If you show your students kindness and compassion and model for them how to treat others, they will follow. I try to model the wrong way to solve a problem, the right way, and every way in between until it becomes more natural for them. Practice makes perfect in all aspects of life!
I would have to say, I’m lucky to have many people in my life to help inspire me and show me kindness and how to best spread kindness. My parents are number one the biggest examples of spreading kindness, being selfless, and showing compassion towards any and all. They raised me to constantly ask what more can we do for others and that has stuck with me through my childhood and into my career teaching children.
I can also say that this tight-knit TpT and blogging community constantly inspires me by showing kindness and compassion on a daily basis. Most significantly, my Primary Punchbowl ladies. They have been a constant source of inspiration for me throughout the last year and I am so grateful for them!
Without a doubt a huge and significant inspiration for my classroom and personal life is my blogging twin, Diana from My Day in K! Her ideas are adorable, her positivity is infectious, and she has quickly become my sounding board for every big moment that’s happening in my life. I don’t know what I would do without her! I have the online teaching community to thank for bringing us together!
My favorite quote about kindness happens to live in my classroom year-round. It’s so simple but so important, not to mention it’s from a Disney movie so win-win!
I hope this post gave you some ideas for the upcoming school year! We’d love for you to join us for our Kindness Roundup! Simply grab these images, write your post, and link up with us!
Thank you so much for stopping by! Have a great rest of your week!