“Don’t write in the margins.”
“Don’t sharpen your pencil while I am talking.”
“Don’t distract your neighbors.”
Don't. Don't. Don't.
It is all too easy for an educator’s day to become filled with well-intentioned negatives. Instead of a constant barrage of negative directives, though, consider the positive environment you could create if you could 1. Help students learn to be considerate of others, 2. Build community in your classroom, and 3. Encourage self-discipline.
It’s easy: encourage your students to perform frequent random acts of kindness.
Because classes vary so widely not just in age, maturity, ability levels, and general class chemistry, you will have to spend a little time determining how you want to unleash this powerful classroom tool.
Start by thinking about your students’ strengths and then about the parts of your class environment that you would like to see improved. Next, think about your students and the things that you know they enjoy. Just one or two simple actions would make a positive difference and is a great way to begin. Perhaps you could ask students to bring in extra pencils to share or write thank you notes to the cafeteria workers.
Small things can make a big difference in helping students think about how they can make their world a better place just by being kind. Here are a few more ideas for random acts of kindness written as direcions for students to follow that you can adapt for your own classroom.
- Compliment two of your classmates this week on something that they have done well.
- Bring in a book to donate to the school or classroom library.
- Help pass out papers that need to be returned.
- Make a study guide for a quiz or test and share it with classmates.
- Clean up your area of the room at the end of class and encourage others to do the same.
- Put a sticky note with an encouraging message on someone’s desk on in a book.
- Make sure that everyone is included in a conversation.
- If there is a new student in your class, be a buddy.
- Tell the bus drivers how much you appreciate them.
- Be on time to class and follow the rules so that you help everyone learn.
- Be willing to share materials when other students need them.
- If a classmate is absent, volunteer to get the handouts for the day and make sure that person knows how to make up work.
- Check with your teacher first, but offer to bring in healthy treats for the entire class to share.
- Pick up litter in the hall or around the school whenever you see it.
- Tutor a younger student.
- Play a charity game at www.gamesforchange.org to help those less fortunate.
- Donate rice to the World Food Programme by playing Free Rice at www.freerice.com.
- Make inspirational bookmarks and share them with classmates.
- Bring in classroom supplies such as paper towels, tissues, or hand sanitizer.
- Write the custodians a thank you note and be sure to leave the classroom clean.
The impact of random acts of kindness is so important that you can even research even more ideas that you can adapt for your classroom at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at www.randomactsofkindness.org.