Creating a Culture of Kindness
I recently saw a video on Facebook about two apples. Two apples you are probably thinking? Stay with me. On the outside these two apples looked the same, shiny and red. However, once the apples were opened, they were not the same. One was healthy looking and the other bruised. What a powerful moment. I wanted to share this with my students to teach the old saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” as illustrated with the apples. This example of not judging others applies to creating a culture of kindness. We cannot tell what challenges a person is going through just by looking at them, which is why it is so important to be kind to everyone all of the time. A simple act of kindness can change someone’s day and even inspire that person to pass it on.
Here are some tips and resources you can use in order to promote a culture of kindness in your school.
Kindness really does count! Kindness costs nothing and can brighten someone’s day. I always talk to my students about how even small acts of kindness count (ex . holding the door open, offering a smile) and can help to change someone’s outlook for the better. When you make someone feel good, you feel good. This month, I have challenged my students to complete random acts of kindness for others with a Kindness Challenge . We have an envelope with hearts pre-cut with ways to be kind to others. I encourage students to try to do one act of kindness a day. The goal is once the act has been completed, students can color the hearts and add to the Kindness Tree we are going to create. – The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store
One act of kindness can make someone’s whole day. Every year I try to do a school wide effort to promote kindness. This year we are completing a Kindness Challenge. Students need to complete 14 acts of kindness in 14 days. My Lunch Bunch students are also prepared to spread good cheer to everyone by creating locker flags to place on every single locker in school. Lastly, we have a bulletin board where we have displayed pennants of student’s RAKs that they have been caught doing around school. – Carol Miller – The Middle School Counselor Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Project
Kindness starts with us! This is a great time to show some extra kindness to the teachers and other staff at your school. Create goodie bags of candy, pass out fun pens, leave special messages in the teachers’ mailboxes, etc. When the teachers and staff feel valued and appreciated, the school climate is much more positive! – CounselorChelsey
Creating a Culture of Kindness is not something the school counselor can do on their own. The word “culture” means that it must be a schoolwide effort that starts with your admin. Work with them in your monthly or weekly counselor-admin meetings to put the Culture of Kindness bug in their ear and offer to spearhead this cultural effort if you have the time, or at least offer to serve on the Culture of Kindness committee, if your time is very tight. It’s the SC version of paying it forward! – Stephanie at Bilingual Learner
A little goes a long way with kindness. My favorite gesture is an old fashioned, handwritten note. There’s just something about the fact that somebody took the time to write out their thoughts about you. At our school, we mail handwritten postcards to students throughout the year. When I don’t have time to write my thoughts, I print out “Happy Cards” with pre-written notes of encouragement. – Brandy at The Counseling Teacher Check out Kindness Week Cards
At our school we often do a Random Acts of Kindness Week in February, but we also try and find other ways to promote kindness throughout the year. Before the holidays in December, one of our teachers found a cute activity (on Pinterest of course) where students wrote kind acts others did for them on holiday lightbulbs cut out of bright construction paper. We attached them to silver garlands and strung them in the halls for parent-teacher conference night. All staff try to point out and encourage kindness every day of the year. – Laurie Mendoza at The School Counseling Files
An important aspect of teaching kindness is educating children about having compassion for their own selves. Addressing self-care strategies, such as basic hygiene, taking care of one’s body, following through with school responsibilities and personal commitments are critical foundational pieces to help generalize kindness to others. Check out 5 Simple Ways to Be Kind to Yourself – Mental Fills.
When trying to establish a culture of kindness, it’s important to involve students in the process. Ask them for ideas and suggestions of ways to promote kindness at school. Sometimes it’s easier for kids to buy into an idea when they play a role in how it’s implemented. Also, when you catch students being kind, it’s a good idea to recognize and praise them in front of others. This Kindness Journal helps students internalize the character trait of kindness by giving them an opportunity to reflect on an act of kindness they have done and the impact it had on them and the person they were being kind to. – Yanique S. Chambers, LCSW/MA at Kiddie Matters
A big part of our role is advocating for and helping create a positive school climate. Random Acts of Kindness Week is a great time to incorporate kindness activities into your practice. Even better, consider with administration and teachers what your school plan is for integrating these concepts into the fabric of your school. Check out resources at the National School Climate Center. – Laura at Social Emotional Workshop
Creating a culture of kindness is of utmost importance. At my school, I want students who care deeply about those around them and who will go the extra mile to help someone in need. Creating a culture of kindness takes school wide effort. I start by promoting it in my actions, hoping it will create a ripple effect. At the start of school, I say good morning to and compliment as many students as I can. It is amazing how many of them now say good morning and try to compliment me before I can say it to them. It sounds small, but those same students go on to greet their teachers and fellow students in the same manner, starting their days off on a positive note. One small action each morning helps to create a culture of kindness throughout the school. One small action starts the day off with kindness. I also incorporate kindness and empathy into each of my guidance lessons. Whether it be a short video or class activity, I always wrap kindness and empathy into my lessons (check out this example lesson). It shows the kids that kindness really matters. I love helping to set the foundation for kids to grow up to be caring adults. – Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor
Showing small acts of kindness makes a big difference in making school a positive place. During this time of year, we tend to see a significant increase in friendship issues between students. In an attempt to avoid this problem, we are holding our second annual Kindness Challenge at my school. I want my students to be aware of this issue and make a concentrated effort to promote kindness to those around them. Each student is given their own Kindness Challenge Brochure to color and make personal to them. The challenge is for each student to complete all 16 squares of kind acts of Be a Friend Bingo. Last year, I handed out 455 brochures and I received 327 back. Those who brought their brochure back to me, received a small treat. When I looked at all the returned brochures and started calculating the total numbers. It was exciting to think that 327 (students) x 16 Squares= 5,232 acts of kindness done at my school. – Jodi Mills at The School Counselor Is In
Creating a culture of kindness and a positive school climate is an ongoing process; we incorporate character ed lessons and bullying prevention lessons as part of our classroom curriculum to reinforce respect and kindness. I like to model kindness to students and staff by remembering birthdays. I fill out birthday cards from the counselor to all my students on my caseload with a small treat attached. Monthly, I send out a birthday list of all the staff birthdays to the faculty. Each staff member is given a birthday card with a free Chick Fil A sandwich coupon from the counselors. – The DIY Counselor.
Children can make a huge impact on the culture of kindness at your school! One way that I love helping children spread kindness is through positive notes to friends and staff members! I’ve found that once students start writing positive notes, they don’t want to stop! You can have students write notes on something simple like a Post-it note or you can turn it into a project. For a fun kindness project with a technology twist, check out All iLove About You! – Kate at EduKate and Inspire