Monday, May 18, 2015

Creating a Culture of Kindness

If you know me personally you'll know that I have some pretty strong believes around children and their behaviours.  I am not a fan of whole class reward systems nor am I big fan of external motivators like stickers or candy.  I am however inspired to bring the very best out of  the students in my class and I will do what I can to do just that.

At the heart of all of this I have a strong belief that you must genuinely care about your students and their well being to have any long term impact on them.  It's a given in my classroom.  I may not know you very well when you first walk into my class, but I can assure you I will do my best to get to know you, and in turn you will find a permanent spot in my heart.

Some years I have students who are more difficult to get to know. Some take a lot longer to connect with.  But even in my most challenging years, with my most challenging students , I keep trying to bring the best out in all of my students. Building real meaningful relationships is key for me.

I also work hard to help my students build positive relationships with one another.  During our year together we are a family. I do my best to help each student see the best in their classmates. I want them to see the good in each other just like I see the good in them.

Together we work  hard to create a culture of kindness.  Our focus is finding ways to be kind, even when someone is not being kind.   We talk about staying calm and using kind words when we are approached with anger.  My students  use "I messages" to let their classmate(s) know how they are feeling.  We have talked about how important it is for my students to listen to one another.  When someone says "I don't like it when you....." we've talked about how important it is to listen and reflect.

I want my students to listen to their classmates and then reflect on their own actions, and take the right steps to make things better.  I am doing my best to teach them to do this on their own. I strongly believe most (if not all) children can do this successfully if given the opportunity to.  Far too often children run to adults to solve their problems. While I'm obviously there to solve problems I want my students to learn how to solve their own problems too.

There are many things I do in my classroom to help create the culture of kindness.  To begin with my students have a lot of choice to learn in ways that work best for them.  This choice includes working on their own or working with others.  I smile when I listen in as one student is explaining an activity to another. By having a room full of "teachers" to turn to when help is needed or is being offered we are drawn to be kind to each other. My students  understand that each person in the class is important and everyone has  different  needs to be met.

I have also worked hard to encourage my students to support one another because together we are all stronger.  If they want competition it should be against themselves, always pushing to be the best they can be, and not against each other.  We often talk about how everyone's best looks different but our goal is to continue to improve.  I love that my students understand that and are willing to support each other with their learning.

Lately we've taken the time at the end of the week to reflect on how we've been kind over the week. We tweet at least one reflection to the hashtag #classkindness. As their teacher I am proud as they each bring their tweets to me for approval before sharing them with the world.  It's a great way to end a week.

This is a sample of some of their tweets.

How are you creating a climate of kindness in your classroom?

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