Bostian Elementary in North Carolina is a school that cares about building character and empowering students with kindness and empathy. I recently connected with 4th Grade Teacher, Donna Rymer about the great work the teachers are doing to make kindness the norm in their school.
Donna explained that they saw a problem in the world with a lack of kindness contributing to sadness, and saw a need to bring happiness and compassion back. They decided they needed to start in their school and launched their kindness initiative to encourage more empathy and ensure less anti-social behaviour.
Their campaign was triggered by a conversation she had with a colleague who had been given a wristband by a kindness ambassador. They decided to invite Rebecca Sutton from The Kindness Revolution to speak to their grade 4 students. Once they heard her speak they were convinced that they needed to expand on her presentation and turn it into a full-blown PBL (Project Based Learning) to reach the whole school and community.
Donna was keen to share how staff and students have worked to promote kindness in the hopes that it will inspire other teachers to also start a kindness initiative at their school.
"We worked with Deputy Mason, our school resource officer, who visited our classroom several times to discuss elements of citizenship, weaving kindness, respect, responsibility, bullying, empathy, and decision-making into the formula."
"We heard Rebecca Sutton speak to the kids about the origin of the Kindness Revolution and the importance of Random Acts of Kindness snowballing into something much bigger than us."
"She gave all 4th graders bracelets to wear as a visual to remind them to be kind in their lives. She shared a personal story of how her daughter was bullied, and she wanted to approach this from a positive standpoint instead of focusing on the negatives of punishment."
"All 4th graders signed a kindness pledge (along with administration and teachers) promising to be kind. This was turned into a bulletin board (another visual to remind us and hold each other accountable). Students have gone into classrooms to give a presentation on kindness and shared an important video on the Science of Kindness."
"Presentation included reciting some great kindness quotes. Students read books about topics related to Kindness. They collaborated in groups to brainstorm ways they can show kindness at home, school, and in the world. Students read Readers’ Theater scripts. They also researched the topic of Depression and Sadness in youth and identified ways to help."
"Students made positive notes of affirmation and mantras and posted them around various places around the school. They also passed inspiring notes to classmates (sticking them in books and on backpacks)."
"Three different 4th grade classes voted on a big service project to carry out in the community. Collecting pet supplies for a local Rescue Shelter, Making Cards for Hospice House patients, Putting together Blessing Bags for Homeless, and Care Boxes for nursing home residents. Students worked with the school guidance counselor to reinforce the message of widespread positive behavior."
Donna and her students hope that you will be inspired to try some of their ideas at your school to help improve well-being, relationships and reduce bullying.
After a resounding success with the 4th graders, every student in the school has now signed a kindness pledge to help reduce bullying. How great is that!!
Donna goes on to say that "some of my 4th graders will be presenting at a community night at one of the local high schools. We have a special presentation prepared and a tri-fold display set up. This has been the best unit of study.
I think if kindness was instituted as part of the curriculum, we may resolve some of the issues that we are seeing happen around us."
We love that schools are slowly doing away with zero tolerance policies and replacing them with kindness initiatives. It's always made sense to us that we must reinforce the positive rather than highlighting the negative while building emotional intelligence and nurturing well-being.
What are some of the positive ways your school uses kindness to reduce bullying?