It is critical to teach kindness in the classroom. Beyond teaching kindness, students need the opportunity to show and encourage kindness in others. There are many easy and inexpensive ways to give students these opportunities.
12 principles for teaching kindness in the classroom
Here are techniques to encourage and teach kindness in the classroom. Start by implementing these:
- Create and follow routines
- Have fun together
- Set clear expectations and follow through on these expectations
- Model and encourage healthy habits
- Model and encourage healthy coping skills
- Talk about feelings~ validate feelings
- Praise good behavior
- Promote problem-solving
- Model kindness
- Teach empathy
- Put an emphasis on friendship
- Show students how and encourage them to take initiative
Kindness in the Classroom Activities
1) Celebrate kindness or a thankful week
In my classroom, we had a kindness/thankful segment once a week. When I began doing this in my classroom, I planned it in the schedule so I didn’t forget. However, as I continued to have this segment each week I realized that it needed to happen when my class needed it. When some of my students seemed to be struggling to get along or work together, that became the best time to have my students stop and do something kind for someone else or share why they were thankful. It helped to recenter the class and help dissolve the stronger negative emotions.
As a school, we did a week of kindness around Valentine’s Day and a week during World Kindness Week in November. However, these weeks can be implemented at your school anytime. Our students write positive notes and deliver them. They practice giving authentic compliments. They create positive bookmarks and leave them in books in the media center.
2) Implement morning meetings
I began having a daily morning meeting several years ago. It became an integral part of my classroom. We started every day with a morning meeting. As a teacher, I was a facilitator because the meeting was for the students. It is a whole group meeting.
I had my students stand or sit in a circle so everyone was able to see the person speaking. These meetings build speaking and listening skills and encourage cooperative learning through shared responses. I changed up my morning meetings to keep them from getting boring. We had a quote or riddle of the day, gratitude share, emotion of the week, and a student advice column. Additionally, we would share highs and lows or glows and grows.
3) Use mentor text to teach kindness and other positive interactions
There are many amazing mentor texts that teach kindness, love, compassion, understanding, and many more positive emotions. Students love to be read to and this is a great opportunity to teach ELA and emotional skills.
4) Shout Outs
There are many ways to do classroom and individual shoutouts. My favorite way is to do a classroom “Brag Board”. I have a board set up in my classroom that has clips for students to post their brag moments about others in the classroom. I leave blank brag board cards out. Students, teachers, and admin knew our class did the “Brag Board” and they would leave a card for the class or student(s) a message about their brag moment or behavior. We would share the cards every week during morning meetings and clear the board for the next week.
This allows students to share kind things others have done but also teaches them how to recognize others and give authentic compliments.
5)Live to Give Projects (Service Projects)
There are many service projects your class can participate in. My favorite project to do with my class is making care bags for the homeless. We would make a list of items to have donated. We included socks, small packs of tissues and wipes, tic tacs, toothbrushes/toothpaste/mouthwash, water bottles, and bandages. Depending on the area you live in, you may want to add gloves or sunscreen. My students love putting these bags together in a large ziploc bag.
promoting kindness around the school
- Create a Kindness Rock Garden
- Kindness Pledge
- Powerful Messages~ in the bathrooms and lobby of the school
- Motivational Tear-Off Flyers
Kindness needs to be encouraged and shared throughout your classroom and school. There are ways to do this on an individual, classroom, and school level. These are great ways to encourage, teach, and provide opportunities for kindness.
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