By Teachers, For Teachers
Teaching children about kindness and how to have empathy for others is essential in today’s classrooms. Creating a culture of kindness within schools is a great classroom management strategy that can not only benefit the students within the classroom, but the entire school community. It can also help to reduce bullying and disruptive classroom behavior, as well as increase the social and emotional well-being of all students.
The teaching of kindness can be integrated within the classroom as well as a part of your classroom management plan with just a few simple teaching strategies. Here are a few proactive ways to help you promote kindness in your classroom.
Take time to get to know your students on a deeper level than just greeting them at the door or calling on them by their name. Try the 3 x 10 strategy, where for three minutes a day for 10 consecutive days, you take the time to talk and really get to know each one of your students. Talk to students about their lives, goals, and interests, and share stories of kind acts or things that you’re both grateful for. The goal at the end of the 10 days is that you will have formed a closer bond with the student. When you go that extra mile, you will solidify that student-teacher bond and have a mutual respect for one another.
Have you ever found yourself talking behind someone’s back in front of your students, or have your students ever seen you roll your eyes in frustration at someone? Children are always listening and watching, and pick up on everything that you do. They use your actions to help gauge what’s acceptable behavior in the world around them. That’s why it’s so important for teachers to be aware of their own behaviors. Model kindness and positivity and you’ll see your students follow suit. Model aggressive behavior and you’ll see them do that, too. Try and always be aware of your actions as well as your reactions, and always watch your tone of voice when speaking. When you model compassion, you’re more likely to see your students react with kindness.
Surround your students with visual cues that value kindness and compassion. Hang posters of people being kind and helping one another, and share motivational quotes about positivity and kindness. Help to encourage kindness by posting a list of books that promote compassion and empathy. Set up a kindness station, where students can write thank-you letters to their classmates or teachers. Or you can even create a classroom book of kindness, where students share stories of random acts of kindness they’ve given or received. The more students visually see that you value kindness in the classroom, the more compassionate they will become.
Begin your day on a positive note by sharing an inspirational story with your students, showing them a video that promotes kindness, or even playing music that will inspire students to start their day in a more positive way. Positivity is contagious, and when your students see how positive you are, then they will want to be too. Positive people are also happy people, and when you are happy, you tend to be more kind. This kindness can create a cycle that can flow through the classroom and even the entire the school.
Give students the opportunity to work together, and you will see them treat each other with kindness. For example, when you put students together in cooperative learning groups -- a teaching strategy where small groups work together to complete a task -- tell students that in order to complete the task, they must help one another. By having students participate in cooperative learning groups, you will help to build a sense of classroom community that is filled with kind and respectable behavior.
Students’ social and emotional skills will increase when they are part of a caring classroom. The more you surround your students with visual cues of kindness, like hanging compassionate posters on the wall, utilizing teaching strategies like getting to know your students better, integrating cooperative learning exercises where students have the opportunity to work with one another, and modeling compassion, you will help to build a sense of classroom community, which is one of the most effective ways you can promote kindness.
How do you promote and encourage kindness in your classroom?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, Graduateprogram.org, as well as Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.