Last week (12-18 February 2017) was Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week 2017. The RAK Foundation is a non-profit organisation that believes in the power of kindness and the importance of spreading it. Since 1995, RAK Week has been an annual celebration of kindness. I had never heard of it until this year. How sad! If you’re also hearing about it for the first time, I encourage you to get involved by visiting the website. In support of this fantastic organisation and its important message, I have applied to become a RAKtivist (random acts of kindness activist). To apply yourself, click here.
I believe passionately that we should educate the ‘whole child’. Students’ academic progress forms only part of what I aim to achieve as a teacher. Once again, I want to draw your attention to this wonderfully-named blog, Making Good Humans (with equally good content, by the way). Being kind is part of being a good human. For PYP teachers, there are obvious connections between kindness, the PYP Attitudes and the Learner Profile attributes.
Here are just some ideas for promoting and celebrating kindness with your students:
- Have you filled a bucket today?
This fantastic picture book is absolutely perfect for RAK Week (click the image to order your own copy). According to the book, everybody in the word carries an invisible bucket that makes us feel happy when full and miserable when empty. Through our actions, we can fill each other’s buckets or dip into them. The book makes the important point that dipping into other buckets does not fill our own, but filling other buckets does fill our own. Interestingly, it also states that bullies (or ‘bucket-dippers’) act that way oftentimes because their own buckets are empty. This part, in particular, prompted a really interesting discussion in class.
This really simple activity is almost guaranteed to raise smiles in your classroom and improve relationships. Simply ask all of your students to write their name on top of a piece of paper. They should then scrunch it up into a ‘snowball’ and throw it. Students then pick up another ‘snowball’ and write a message on it about that person. There are two conditions: the comments must be kind and must be true. They throw it again when finished and pick up another. At the end of the activity, each student gets their sheet of paper back full of nice comments. Add your own paper to the mix to get your own page of kindness (we don’t ever grow out of needing a full bucket).
- Daily quotes
There are some wonderful, thought-provoking quotes about kindness. A quick Google Search will give you all the ones that you could possibly ask for. Take a part of every day to think about them and discuss them. Here are some of my favourites:
“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates ripples with no logical end.”
I love the idea that kindness always generates more kindness. So true! Kindness is contagious because of how it makes the recipient(s) feel.
“If you want more kindness in the world, PUT IT THERE!”
Simple. Stop complaining about the world and start making it better. The only kindness that you can truly control is your own, so do all the good that you can with it.
“Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.”
This one connects well to the buckets story and the idea that unkind people have empty buckets. We need to fill them and inspire the unkind people to be kinder.
“The mouth should have three gatekeepers:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?”
These are three questions that will help students (and adults) to think before the speak and consider the consequences of their words. If it isn’t true, kind or necessary, don’t say it.
- Make kindness posters
These don’t have to take up much lesson time. We simply asked students to copy some of the kindness quotes (including the ones above) and stick these posters around school. Kindness isn’t just for RAK Week. These quotes will remind us to be kind long after RAK Week has finished.
- Create a kindness display
Again, not just for RAK Week. Dedicate a small display board to acts of kindness. Whenever my students experience an act of kindness, however small, they are encouraged to add it to the kindness wall so that we can celebrate the kind acts/ kind people during Circle Time.
- Messages of appreciation
Each recess of RAK Week, we had ASV students stationed in the playgrounds with iPads. They encouraged other students to send emails of appreciation to their parents, teachers, friends, etc.
Ask yourself, what can you do to model kindness? We are influential role models to our students and they will mimic our actions. This brings me to one final quote:
“Be kind whenever possible… it is always possible.”
How do you celebrate kindness and promote it? To what extent is this the teacher’s responsibility? How did you celebrate RAK Week? Please leave a comment below to keep the discussion going. If you have found any other great kindness quotes, please add those too.