We often tell our students to be kind, but what does it actually mean to be kind? As a teacher, I not only wanted my students to be successful in first grade, but I also wanted to set the foundation to help them be successful in life. So, while learning how to read, write, and do arithmetic are important, these important skills won’t take them far if they don’t know how to interact with their peers and treat others with kindness. This is why one of the core values in our classroom was to “Be Respectful: treat others the way you want to be treated.” If you want to see kindness take root in your students’ hearts and bear fruit in their lives, it’s important to take time to teach, model, and affirm kindness in our classroom. 

1. Teach it

Part of our job as teachers is to make abstract concepts concrete and we accomplish this through meaningful learning experiences. One of my favorite ways to teach kindness is through picture books. Books are a great springboard for important discussions in the classroom. They also allow students to see examples of ways to treat others with respect as well as showcase ways that we don’t want to act. Some of my favorite picture books that teach about kindness are “Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig, and “Be Kind” by Pat Zietlow Miller, but there are so many good ones to use. Making anchor charts with your students about ways to be kind, or words that we can use to show kindness are great way to teach kindness and are beneficial to keep in the classroom to refer to throughout the year.

Read “Dear First Year Teacher” by Becca Foxwell

2. Model it

You’ve heard the saying, “Our actions speak louder than our words.” Well, our students are watching us every second of the day and they mirror what they see us do. The best model for kindness in the classroom is you! I can tell my students to be thankful, but it’s way more powerful for them to see me thank the gym teacher when I pick them up from class. I can tell my students to let others go first in line, but it’s more effective for them to see me let the other first grade class go into the air conditioned building first after playing in the heat during recess. 

3. Affirm it

Teaching students kindness shouldn’t be an isolated lesson, but an ongoing life lesson. There are so many teachable moments sprinkled in throughout the school day. Be sure to point kindness out when you see it and praise students for when they treat others with respect. Leave a little note on their desk or make a positive call home to the student’s family when they have shown kindness to others.

Read “Classroom Management Tips for Back-To-School” by Becca Foxwell



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Becca Foxwell

Becca Foxwell

Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2016-2017

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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