The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Kind Words, Kind Actions

A recurring theme in my classroom this year is going to be the importance of kind words and kind actions. Kindness, in general, is such an important thing to be able to do and be. Kindness is being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Kindness is being able to treat others with respect. Kindness is looking for the good in others and letting others see the good in you. Kindness is being considerate, to think about others and to show empathy; to stop before you react and think about how your actions will impact those around you.

We start the year reading different books about kindness, most notably Wonder by R.J. Palacio. We also watch a music video that a youth group made about kind words and how they lift others up. I made a bulletin board for my class last year that featured the kind words that my students used to describe one another. Miss C, our first grade partner, did a similar thing with her class. I also had a bulletin board that featured the kind actions. The theme for these two boards was “Words can build us up; actions lift us higher!” I decided to keep this bulletin board going this year, but updated with my class, of course!

We watched the music video I used last year and then we talked about how we can use kind words to describe one another. I gave each of the students a class list and asked them to write a word or phrase to describe each person in the room. Then I collected these, typed up the lists, and made a collection of word clouds using Tagxedo. After printing them, I coloured in the students’ names and posted them on the bulletin board outside our classroom.

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To build on this project, the students are going to make a list of the positive, kind things that have been said and done to them this week. Then, on Friday, they are going to do a write-up of what was said and how it made them feel. I will also have them think about the kind things they have said and done and think about how that made them feel, too. Positive social skills are so important to creating a healthy learning environment! No matter how awesome the tools we have are, no matter how great I may be at teaching, learning will not be as effective, as meaningful, if the classroom environment isn’t a safe, positive, healthy place where students can take risks, challenge thinking, and explore the world around them. And it all starts with choosing kindness.

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