World Kindness Day is coming up on November 13, and as part of an ongoing focus on kindness in 5th Grade, we created a "Caught Being Kind" bulletin board on our floor. We asked the students to keep an eye out for their peers' behavior, and to let a teacher know when they caught a classmate in a random act of kindness. Our goal is to have every student's name on our bulletin board by World Kindness Day next week. So far we've noticed 5th Graders volunteering to organize laptop carts, helping to clean out one another's cubbies or pick up dropped notebooks, showing good sportsmanship during student council elections, and in general treating each other with generosity and patience.
Our 5th Grade initiative caught on in the Middle School, and at today's assembly our students presented to Grades 5-8 on the work they're doing to make our school a nicer place. After sharing their Caught Being Kind bulletin board, a student made paper chain of kindness, and a choice quote from Wonder by R.J. Palacio, the entire Middle School watched a short YouTube playlist on the ways in which other students across the country celebrate World Kindness Day. We then dispersed to our homerooms to fill out Kindness Pledges, small slips of paper on which students listed the ways they can work harder to make our community more generous, supportive and warm. Next step: Cover a bulletin board in one of our main hallways with these pledge slips.
The assembly was a great success, with students across the grades reflecting on their behavior and generating concrete examples of how they might increase their kindness towards others. I was a bit concerned that the older students would find the concept silly or juvenile, but was in fact pleased to hear from teachers in grade 6-8 that their students responded to the activity thoughtfully and with care. It got me thinking that while it's easier to launch something like this with younger students, developmentally it is likely the older ones who need this guidance the most.