By Teachers, For Teachers
Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day is on Feb. 17, when anyone who chooses to participate agrees to perform unexpected acts of kindness. Participants pay it forward for that time they need a little bit of unexpected care. We flaunt our altruistic side by doing something nice for another without a thought for the consequences.
For schools promoting SEL (social-emotional learning), celebrating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) fits well with your curriculum and mission. Here are some classroom activities you can do to promote this event:
To get students thinking of random acts of kindness as part of who they are, encourage them to do at least one every day. They often can be completed in minutes -- some within seconds -- but the effect lasts much longer. Random Acts of Kindness.org puts out a free, year-long calendar with suggestions every day for classroom activities that can be done to encourage kindness. They take only a few minutes and are also offered in a team-based setup if that works better for your group. Kindnesses include:
Here's an example of what the free calendar looks like.
Reframe kindness as the habits most parents teach their kids -- the cornerstones to thriving in our world. This includes compassion, fairness, gratitude, taking care of ourselves, integrity, truthfulness, and honesty. If you have monthly messages that revolve around these qualities, refresh them by blending acts of kindness that can be performed to support them.
The website Random Acts of Kindness has a wide selection of lesson plans to support teaching kindness to your students. Topics include:
These are free to download, organized by grade, and are available in versatile PDF format. You don't even need to create an account to access them.
If you are stuck for ideas, here's a list of 15 activities that are suggested by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and others:
Why kindness is important seems obvious, but really, it isn't. I can name a whole lot of people who have succeeded despite being, well, jerks, so why should we think there's merit in a gentler approach?
One reason is that research says there is. Studies show that being compassionate not only helps others, but ourselves. We're happier, healthier, and may be at a lower risk for heart and blood pressure-related diseases. For most of us, being kind feels good. We are more accepting of what is our lot in life and less judgmental of others. When we practice kindness, life seems to be more of what we once dreamt it would be.
Some kids resist being kind because it sounds weak and/or might make them look naïve. But truly, being kind often requires strength, courage, and commitment. How often have you been in a situation where you were expected to judge someone poorly just because your peers and besties did? It's a struggle to stand up for someone who "No one likes." Aside from peer pressure, have you ever wanted to be angry with someone who disagreed with you or corrected you, maybe ignored you when you needed to be included? Kindness requires that you push all of those thoughts away, and reject the easy path in favor of being forgiving and helpful.
That definitely is not easy.
Kindness is the gateway to caring. Try it once. Live it forever.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.