I woke up this morning, December 9, a year since the election and realized that we truly are living in an alternate reality. This is a time and place I no longer recognize and it saddens me. Our freedom and first Amendment rights are in jeopardy. Our students need to look up to and admire those who lead our country and I’m afraid that they don’t have a good example.
What do we say to our children? How do we let them know that bullying is wrong, that hatred and prejudice are wrong? We do this by showing them, by talking to them by being the person that they can look up to. I feel confident that we can accomplish this together by stressing kindess, empathy, caring and the willingness to give of ourselves to help others. I can’t think of a better time to begin then during this holiday season.
For some of us, this is a joyful time, but there are many who are alone, and unhappy. Some have no money to buy gifts and others are out in the cold with no homes. It breaks my heart realizing that some people feel alienated from their families which can lead to depression and in extreme cases, suicide. Our kiddos aren’t immune, they see what’s going on and may not know how to deal.
A few years ago, we collected toys, clothing, coats, scarves and more to give to a poor family so that their holiday could be a little brighter. This activity gave our class a chance to step outside of themselves by feeling the joy of giving. This idea led me to thinking about how the kids could give to each other in my classroom, not with a grab bag, but from the heart. I read somewhere about a group of kids in an after school program who gave positive and happy notes to each other. It was such a hit that I decided to try it myself.
I began the lesson by talking about kindness, and gave an example of a time when a kind word helped me overcome an obstacle that I had been dealing with for a long time. Once the ice was broken, they felt comfortable enough sharing some of their own personal stories. Needless to say, there were some tears that day. This was a great segway to the lesson that followed.
I told the kids that they would be writing notes to each other and me as well, which they love doing anyway. I stressed that this would be powerful activity because we don’t often learn how others truly feel about us. Don’t forget to reiterate that notes should be complimentary yet truthful and that only positive things should be written. Tell them that if they aren’t sure about what to say, you will help them. Last but not least, let them know that if they have a question about whether or not what they’ve written is a compliment, to check with you first.
- Brainstorm what they can write to each other put all suggestions on the board.
- Accept whatever they say, if some aren’t appropriate, discuss why.
Here’s some suggestions from my own students:
- I love the way you’re so willing to help.
- You are so artistic, I love your drawings.
- You have a great sense of humor.
- You’re fun to be with.
If you’re looking for the complete lesson, click on image below
This post is part of our December Teacher Talk Link-Up
Please make sure to read the other posts from these wonderful teacherpreneurs