Kindness: A Lesson Plan
National Day of Acts of Random Benevolence The 17th of February has been designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day, a day on which people and organisations all around the United States commemorate and encourage people to perform random acts of kindness. In the month of February, many people observe Valentine’s Day, which is a holiday centred on romantic love. Younger students distribute greeting cards that they have purchased in bulk to all of their classmates, while older students send “Heartgrams” to each other during the class period that immediately precedes lunchtime.
If you are a teacher (or reflect back to your days as a student in kindergarten through high school), what emotions does this day bring up for you? More important than the abundance of hugs, smiles, and laughing (and candy), however, are the sensations of being cared for, seen, treasured, liked, appreciated, and even loved by others. Aren’t they the kinds of feelings we want to cultivate on a daily basis?
Why therefore don’t we make it a more routine part of what we do in our schools and classrooms to consciously celebrate and practise acts of kindness? According on the findings of many pieces of research, there are three different types of learning: cognitive, or thinking, motor, or physical, and affective, or emotional or feeling. According to a quote that is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Educating the head without also educating the heart is not education at all.”
KICK-START KINDNESS: ACTIVITIES
1. Favorable Aspects This is an activity that can be completed in little than five minutes, but it is a foolproof method to begin the lesson or the entire day on a compassionate and encouraging note. Ask each kid to answer to their neighbour using either “One good thing in my life is….” or “Something wonderful that happened is…” as the talking stem. Tell the children that their thing can be anything, whether it be that they had pizza for dinner last night, that someone got a pet turtle, or that they recently passed their driver’s test. After they have shared with their elbow partner, you should ask for volunteers to share something wonderful that they have or that their neighbour has. Students will have the opportunity to share aspects of their lives with their teachers and classmates, as well as to be praised and validated for those aspects.
2. The Practice of Writing Around While simultaneously improving their writing fluency, students will have the opportunity to express their appreciation for one another through the medium of writing. Give each of them a handout that contains various phrase starters and space for writing following each one of them:
One suggestion that I’ve picked up from you is…
I have a lot of respect for your character since… I am confident that I can rely on you whenever… I am always so thankful whenever you…
The following are some adjectives that are used to describe you:
I am blown away by the manner in which you…
Because… I’m looking forward to catching up with you because…
You gather the student’s names that are written at the top of their papers, where they have written their names. Distribute them in a haphazard manner. Instruct the pupils that they have three minutes to write something about the person you just talked about after you have asked for silence. They are free to answer to more than one sentence starter if they so choose, and even a single student may receive responses from numerous students. After a few minutes, you should request that they give the papers to another individual. Perform a number of circuits. Gather them up and give them back to the people who own them. You won’t believe your eyes when you see all of the happy faces.
3. Mentions and kudos Students should see you model this one for the first few weeks (it may take up to a month or two if the class is very difficult or reserved): “I’d want to offer a shout-out to… for giving her best to her group today!” “I really appreciate how…” “I noticed that…” “I’d like to give a shout-out to… for bringing her best to her group today!” Sooner or later, in their own unique ways, people will start to repeat your views to one another, and eventually, this will become a standard procedure in the classroom. Make sure you schedule enough time for it. In the last three to five minutes of class, you should try to cram as many shout-outs as you can.
4. Gift Basket of Appreciation Make a box and put it in the back of the room with small slips of paper or sticky notes for the children who are less likely to contribute with the whole group. The box is for both the instructor and the students to use to express their gratitude to one another. It’s possible that this will require some modelling and encouragement. Take the appreciations out once every few days and read them out loud to the group. I observed a fourth-grade instructor create a treasure chest-themed appreciation box. Throughout the school day, the instructor and her teaching assistant would place slips of paper in the box, and then they would read the slips out loud to the students in the last five minutes of class before dismissal. Soon after, the kids began to express their gratitude toward one another by penning messages of praise. She informed me that it was a life-changing experience, adding, “We became a family.”
5. A Check of the Temperature To start the lecture, you could ask your pupils something as straightforward as, “How are you feeling today?” This emotional check-in is an admission that we are all human and that we have feelings and emotions that sometimes fluctuate from day to day. It also recognises that these feelings and emotions are something that we all share in common. Students have the option of turning to a neighbour and talking or sharing with the entire group. This notifies you, as the students’ instructor, of any delicate feelings or moods that may be present in the room, so that you can be aware of them and possibly discuss them in private with the students after class.
Affective learning is addressed by helping students expand their emotional and feeling expression vocabulary as a means of addressing the significance of this type of learning. By presenting your pupils with this collection of words for feelings, you may assist offer them access to a vocabulary that is richer. It was compiled by the Center for Nonviolent Communication and can be shared with secondary students; however, you should supply a word list that is shorter and easier to understand for the younger pupils.
6. Buddy Up You and your students can come up with a witty and age-appropriate name for this activity (for instance, “wingman/woman,” “copilot,” “collaborator,” or “colleague”), and the name will change depending on the age of the children you teach. Put them in a pair, and it will be up to them to look out for each other. Have you been absent from class? She will obtain information and brochures specifically for you. Don’t comprehend something? First, check in with your companion, and then proceed to the instructor. Students are shown that they can be trusted and that they are capable of assisting one another through one-on-one collaboration and assistance. This helps to establish a sense of community in the classroom. Sometimes the students should choose their own partners, while other times you should choose the partners for them. You get to select how often you switch partners: once a week, every other week, or once a month.
7. A Gathering of the Community When we pay careful attention to one another, kindness becomes more apparent. Take down any desks or tables that could be in the way, and have the students sit in a circle. Only one person at a time is allowed to speak, while the others must listen. It is essential that you participate in the circle, not in the role of leader but rather as a participant, even if you are the one who will be facilitating the discussion by suggesting a question or subject for the kids to discuss.
Pick a talking item to pass around the circle, such as a teddy animal, a miniature globe, or a basketball, and do so once everyone has introduced themselves and checked in. (Please refer to these recommendations provided by the Center for Restorative Process.) Only the person who is physically holding the object can speak. When something significant takes place either within or outside of the classroom, you might want to think about incorporating a community circle into the schedule (a traumatic event in the neighbourhood or world, or an argument that involved multiple students, or theft in the classroom). Making room and time for a circle like this one, which focuses on social and emotional learning and encourages students to talk about their views and feelings and find common ground with one another, will have a beneficial impact on students’ ability to understand academic material.
RESOURCES ON KINDNESS
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s tagline is “Help Turn the World Kind.” Would it be possible for you to adopt and modify a version of this slogan for use in your classroom? Maybe the students could get together and construct a sign that says something like “Compassionate Classroom Alert!” or something similar. (I think a party where people make posters during lunchtime would be a lot of fun.)
Through its website, the foundation provides numerous educational resources for students in grades K through 12. Lessons that are “developmentally appropriate, standards-aligned, and teach youngsters critical social and emotional skills (SEL)” are included in the thematic units. These multi-lesson packages cover topics that range from “How Can I Be Kind?” (for students in grade 2) through “Taking Care of Ourselves” (for students in grade 5) and “Understanding Each Other” (grade 7).
In the blog post titled “Resources for Creating a Radically Compassionate Classroom,” I present resources for classroom walls as well as ideas and activities that foster a compassionate learning space, one that encourages the inclusion of all children. These resources can be found on this page.
According to the findings of the research conducted by Adena Klem and James Connell, children who have the perception that their teachers care about them had greater attendance rates, better grades, and a higher level of engagement in the classroom and throughout the school. Consider the findings of this study. How might the learning settings where we teach be further transformed and advanced if we expand the scope of that caring community outside the confines of the classroom and make it a part of the way in which students connect with one another?