As we head into December, I find that this time of year can be very busy and stressful for teachers, students and parents alike.  As a teacher, the last thing I want to do is add to the stress of others or create more for myself.  So I was thinking of a classroom tradition I could start doing that would be genuine and wouldn’t add to everyone’s workload or anxiety. 

 

Traditions are something handed down from generation to generation.  In the school setting it might be from one classroom to the next. I gain so much from communicating with colleagues, and as I was talking with Betsy Walker and Jessica Lynch, teaching colleagues from Center for Inquiry School 84, they discussed how they gave their students a homework assignment about doing random acts of kindness.  I felt like this was a tradition I would like to start in my classroom this year. So this week, as part of their writing homework, we are sending home the following: 

“For your writing homework we would like for you to do three random acts of kindness.  In your writing you should share what these acts of kindness were, how they made you feel, and how you think your act of kindness made the receiver feel.  For one of your acts of kindness we would like for you to write a thank you note to someone special in your life who you appreciate and/or has made a difference in your life.  You may include a drawing or photograph of your acts of kindness.  We look forward to reading about the kindness spreading from Rooms 11 and 13!”

My colleagues implemented this assignment before Thanksgiving as part of their homework.  When students returned their reflective writing, there was a wide range of student involvement.  Some students reported helping prepare dinner, holding doors open or giving a compliment to a peer or family member.  Other students decided to set-up a stand to serve free hot chocolate to the community.  They gave their donated earnings to the Humane Society and Salvation Army.  A friend of mine once said, “It doesn’t cost a penny to hold the door open or give someone a smile.”

So my challenge to you is to try the same exercise in your classrooms or with your family.  It’s amazing the difference a thank you note, an extra hand or a smile makes. We are a large district with a lot to give.  Tweet about and share the acts of kindness coming from our students and staff in IPS.